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The Creativity Crisis 571

An anonymous reader writes with this quote from an article at Newsweek: "For the first time, research shows that American creativity is declining. ... Like intelligence tests, Torrance's test — a 90-minute series of discrete tasks, administered by a psychologist — has been taken by millions worldwide in 50 languages. Yet there is one crucial difference between IQ and CQ scores. With intelligence, there is a phenomenon called the Flynn effect — each generation, scores go up about 10 points. Enriched environments are making kids smarter. With creativity, a reverse trend has just been identified and is being reported for the first time here: American creativity scores are falling. Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. 'It's very clear, and the decrease is very significant,' Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America — from kindergarten through sixth grade — for whom the decline is 'most serious.'"
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The Creativity Crisis

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  • Play time? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:28AM (#32865980)
    Shocking, who'd've thought that standardized testing, eliminating recess and general free time would have consequences. Perhaps actually letting kids play would help that.
    • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:40AM (#32866046) Homepage

      Unsupervised 'play' is far too dangerous for little snowflake. Think of the lawsuits.

      • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by KiltedKnight ( 171132 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:52AM (#32866538) Homepage Journal
        That's probably the only place creativity has increased.... how to come up with yet another stifling law suit that the ball-less judges won't throw out as frivolous.
      • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jurily ( 900488 ) <jurily@g m a i l . com> on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:14AM (#32866692)

        Unsupervised 'play' is far too dangerous for little snowflake.

        Yeah, what if they actually learn something by accident?

      • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @12:24PM (#32867190) Homepage

        And what about those standardized toys that you can buy - Made in China.

        Everything today is "tamper proof", so it's not possible to open the devices, and if you are able to do it - there is nothing to learn.

        And then - what happens at home is that the kids can't go visit their friends at will - it's far too dangerous to place the kid on a bicycle to meet some friends and then play at a nearby stream without supervision where they can build a small dam or play with small boats that they have made themselves. Going out when it's raining - that won't happen. Every kid needs to be supervised and transported by car to their friends.

        And when kids are at home they aren't placed into doing something creative but instead placed in front of the TV or possibly at the computer where they can play some point and shoot game that won't stimulate the creativity. And then the kids today also are fully active in interaction with their friends via SMS and IM which shortens their attention span.

        What builds creativity? - That's a good question, but it seems to me that a too short attention span where there is a shortness of true idleness periods and triggering of the imagination is failing. Watching a movie is to consume the imagination of someone else while reading a book leaves room for yourself to develop your imagination triggered by the author. Don't forget that "necessity is the mother of invention", so if there is no need to invent (like when you read a book you need to invent the pictures) the creativity isn't triggered. I'm not saying that you should ban all movies, but rather to limit the volume.

        As for books to read - check out adventure books describing the discoveries and travels of other persons (real or imaginary) will be one path. Don't worry if the 9 year old takes a nose dive in some book intended for adults. That's just a new level of challenges and a learning about the world. Worry more if the kid don't touch books at all. And remember - there are no "bad" literature, that's just an invention by some people that want to think that they have a high standard. The important thing is to read.

        Kids also learns from trial and error - and if nothing is broken ever and the kid never gets some bruises now and then from failing an idea the is either lacking all initiative or is so over-protected that creativity has been hemmed in.

        As long as the kids aren't doing anything criminal there is not much to worry about. Creativity in criminality is what we shall fear most. Creativity in reassembling junk into new things is no problem (except that you will have some junk lying around now and then).

        • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by stonewallred ( 1465497 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:36PM (#32867634)
          41 years old, grew up in the semi-rural south. When I was 10 or 11, during the summer it was hit the door around 7am or so and maybe come back for lunch or we might go to a friend's and eat, or then again, we might be 10 miles away and grab something at the general store or whatever. Had to be home by full dark was the only real rule. Now a days if a kid is out of sight, the parents want an implanted GPS and full time audio/video feed. Black powder firecrackers, made from smokeless gunpowder and newspaper with paper towel fuses soaked in rubbing alcohol (get a kid a life sentence as a terrorist today) or mixing our own special brands of pesticides out of whatever stuff looked and smelled like it would kill bugs. Homemade napalm for starting camp fires for the frog legs after we would gig up a mess of them. BB gun wars, riding bicycles in skateboard parks or out in the woods where natural gullies made ramps 10-15 foot high, all without helmets or any pads (other than those shitty ones wrapped around the bike in strategic places). I can imagine the screams of child abuse, endangerment and neglect if these modern day parents found out I was letting my kid do the same stuff.
        • by w0mprat ( 1317953 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @04:19PM (#32868790)

          Everything today is "tamper proof", so it's not possible to open the devices, and if you are able to do it - there is nothing to learn.

          Thanks to devices like the iPad the next generation won't even have root access to their devices.

      • by Alan R Light ( 1277886 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @05:24PM (#32869254)

        Don't you know that there are predators waiting on every corner? According to the NCMEC, 1,500,000 children go missing each year!!! (if you count 17 year olds who run away from home multiple times for each escape attempt - an average of 115 if you only count "typical" kidnappings).

        But seriously, I recently traveled through South America, and the kids there are like actual human beings. With a little capital and rule of law, they'll go far.

        As for North American kids: two words - "opportunity costs".

    • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Third Position ( 1725934 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:59AM (#32866166)

      Well, I don't really think the article tells us enough to come to any conclusions. Obviously, the population of America in 2010 is very different from the population in 1960. I'd like to see the demographics amplified. What is the socio-economic background of the creative? What parts of the country do they come from? Where and how have they been educated? What is the correlation to race/class? What kind of family relationships do they have? How does parental participation influence creativity?

      I'm not getting the feeling there's a lot of helpful information here.

      • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:05AM (#32866210)
        When you look back in time, the only pattern I've ever seen is access to implements and free time. Admittedly, that's highly unscientific, but having free time in which to do nothing and where one doesn't have to produce as a portion of the day is really important if one wishes to create anything.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ScrewMaster ( 602015 )

          When you look back in time, the only pattern I've ever seen is access to implements and free time. Admittedly, that's highly unscientific, but having free time in which to do nothing and where one doesn't have to produce as a portion of the day is really important if one wishes to create anything.

          Google's 20%, for example?

        • creativity (Score:5, Insightful)

          by zogger ( 617870 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:14AM (#32866688) Homepage Journal

          Well, there's also the old adage that "necessity is the mother of invention". People were a lot more hands on back then with their day to day..well, stuff, plus a lot of things got repaired, not just thrown away when something trivial broke. This lead to "how do I make this better" type efforts..back to caveman days. As applies to children..they mimic adults, they don't see adults doing this anymore that much, repairing or building anything from scratch, figuring out a new tool or how to do something, so they don't either. How many kids today really watch their dad fixing things, or building anything from scratch? the world went from a lot of generalists who could use any tool thrown at them, plus make new tools, to now you need to be an extreme specialist in just one subject to even think about it. I know when I was a little shitter, I was following pops around as he tore down and rebuilt cars, did his own plumbing and carpentry, rebuilt TVs and radios, etc. So..I started doing similar, all the way to getting into trouble for disassembling the lawnmower, etc, building forts, etc with saws and hammer and nails. Kids today..are they really doing that, or mostly just..dunno..playing video games? Being a tool user means you need to use tools, then getting creative with that.

          And then, where is the dividing line between art and tech/engineering? Hard to define creativity when we have no real distinction. Perhaps creativity is just not being recognized clearly enough today?

          • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @12:52PM (#32867388) Journal

   you need to be an extreme specialist in just one subject to even think about it.

            It's not just the complexity of modern devices though - it is also that manufacturers now go out of their way to prevent people fix, modifying, learning etc. from things they make in order to prevent you from either improving on it or doing things with it that they do not want you to. When manufacturers actively stop you from 'playing' with their devices the result is not only that it is harder to "fix" it but you also risk breaking the device....and generally those with the free time (students etc.) don't have the money to be able to afford breaking expensive equipment. Hence rather than innovate creatively they just use the device as told.

            Of course the above only applies to electronic devices but, as the newest and most capable tools we have these are the ones most likely to motivate creative and intelligent people to play with them because they can, in general, do so much more with them.

          • Re:creativity (Score:5, Insightful)

            by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:23PM (#32868366)

            "So..I started doing similar, all the way to getting into trouble for disassembling the lawnmower, etc, building forts, etc with saws and hammer and nails. Kids today..are they really doing that, or mostly just..dunno..playing video games? Being a tool user means you need to use tools, then getting creative with that."

            Their adults don't value those skills, so they raise fewer offspring with general skills. The pursuit of such skills isn't valued, which amuses me when "over-specialized" adults don't know what to do when their Special job goes away!

            "to now you need to be an extreme specialist in just one subject to even think about it."

            Bad popular misconception! Generalists are much better able to learn as they go.

            I trained plenty of avionics weenies, engine mechs, and crew chiefs in my USAF service. The folks who got it quickest were generally farm boys/girls or others who had an old school background. Their parents weren't afraid to put them in a go-cart, on a dirt bike, or helping fix the house or car.

            They learned HOW to learn, and internalized that mechanical and electrical PRINCIPLES apply to everything from a toaster to an F-16.

      • by AnonymousClown ( 1788472 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:25AM (#32866374)

        Obviously, the population of America in 2010 is very different from the population in 1960

        That's right! In the 1960s, they used more creativity enhancing substances.

        I think this article is a case for the legalization of recreational drugs.


      • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:43AM (#32866466)

        I'm not getting the feeling there's a lot of helpful information here.

        Just use your imagination. Jeez!

    • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:04AM (#32866200)

      Ha! Are you using the data from one type of standardized test (CQ) to criticize the validity of other standardized tests?

      Perhaps we need to just teach to the test (CQ). That will certainly make kids more creative.

      Also, am I the only one who is confused on how you can use a standardized test to measure something like creativity? How can you objectively measure something that is so subjective?

      • not confused, amused (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mevets ( 322601 )

        Testing is the snake oil of our times; but a fool and his money...

      • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by kbielefe ( 606566 ) <> on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:38PM (#32868056)

        I also wonder who they would get to score the test. My 9 year-old nephew had an assignment recently where part of the instructions were to "put a line under" certain items. He used vertical lines under the items instead of horizontal lines and was heavily marked down. Now, I'm a little biased, but I would have actually given bonus points for creativity. Instead, my sister had to go to bat for him just to get the minimum score he deserved, because his teacher was completely incapable of recognizing a correct answer that happens to differ from the expected one.

    • Validity (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AnonymousClown ( 1788472 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:04AM (#32866202)
      I don't see anyone asking if the "creativity test" is even valid.

      How's the test structured? What's the researcher's definition of creativity? What are they measuring? Creativity is a very subjective concept as it is.

      Just because someone creates a test doesn't mean it measures what they think it measures. We've been through all this with intelligence tests.

      • Re:Validity (Score:5, Insightful)

        by biryokumaru ( 822262 ) <> on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:45AM (#32866476)

        If only there were people with PhDs on the subject to do tedious and costly research over decades, publishing papers in important psychology journals and conferring with one another to develop a scientific understanding of how the mind works. Then we could trust these people to make scientific determinations about humans the way we can trust engineers to make decisions about bridges, or judges to make decisions about law.

        Too bad psychologists are all a sham and are clearly only making it up as they go along. I mean, I've watched Frasier. Anyone could do their job.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Spyware23 ( 1260322 )

          There's Neurologists.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mevets ( 322601 )

          Your right, there are, and they do. Unfortunately, there is no money in saying "you can't reliably measure that"; so to pay the bills, a little tour in fishnet stockings is required. Take a look at the money behind the "personality test industry" and the papers published about the effectiveness of these tests.

          An anecdote from the straightdope: .......
          The test was developed starting in the 1940s by the mother-daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers with the goal of sorting people based on Carl

        • Re:Validity (Score:4, Insightful)

          by AnonymousClown ( 1788472 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:58AM (#32866988)
          To this day there are plenty criticisms regarding intelligence and creativity tests among the PhDs you mention. And there are a few who find it ridiculous that something as unquantifiable as "intelligence" or "creativity" can be measured with tests.

          This study is being reported in a magazine for the general public. The fact that it's titled "The Creativity Crisis" is enough to have my BS detector on full. "Creativity Crisis"?! Please. How sensationalist can you get?


          To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).

          Pray tell, what is the "best" result? What some academic thinks is the best result? An engineer or businessman could have completely different idea of what "best" is.

          When I see this study being reproduced with different measures of creativity, then I'll take it seriously.

    • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:46AM (#32866486) Homepage

      There's slightly more to it than that I fear.

      One of the most important things I learned in art classes were in how to visualize things to produce better realism. This was important so that things that I would later imagine became more realistic and better developed. This all developed a more structured imagination which enabled more complexity of imagination and creativity.

      The problem with today's young minds as I see it is a decrease in ability to concentrate and build complex things from more simple things. The famed "short attention span" often called "AD/HD" or the like are, in my view, the simple lack of a practiced mind. Kids don't play with building toys as much as they once did -- they play with action figures re-enacting scenes from their favorite movies. More, there is a decrease in the actual participation of adults in play! That is a HUGE factor.

      When my older boys were between 7 and 10, they told me "we like you because you are always tricking us." And I was. I was testing their minds and perception with tricks and jokes of various sorts. Some times they would figure it out on their own, other times I had to provide clues and hints. Whatever the case, their minds were challenged and they enjoyed it. Fast forward to present day, I have a 19 year old entering the nuclear sciences field and a 17 year old in advanced college courses while in high school. They are both extremely fun and creative individuals with strong logic, reasoning and math skills along with interests in music and graphic arts. These boys can literally do anything they want in life as their skill set is adaptable and versatile. This was no accident... and strangely, they are also quite happy when compared to the common "achiever" who is pressured by parents for excellent grades and the like.

      My boys targeted mastery and personal fulfilment as their paths. The common "achiever" tends to "study for the test" and fills in the blocks for achievement set before them by curricular academics. My boys aren't #1 in their peer groups though... they aren't any of those latin titles/ranks. Those are most often for the achievers to struggle and fight for. Instead, they are simply the best they can be while being happy and satisfied with themselves which is all I ever wanted for them.

      What is lacking as much as things no longer available in school, is parental participation. And what is more unfortunate is that this has been a problem in my own generation and now two generations of parents lack the experience of good parent teaching themselves and have no clue nor inclination to provide that experience for their children. Our society of instant gratification and bubblegum pop culture has dug a hole that it won't easily climb out of until the next renaissance which isn't likely to happen again any time soon.

      What gets me is that I didn't actually have the ideal family experience growing up. I had divorced parents. I had split custody juggling me around. I had a mother who more or less personified the parent who didn't care to teach her son anything (I once humiliated myself by assuming than an "address" was something girls wore and told my teacher that I didn't have one because I was a boy!) and a father who only had every-other-weekend to teach me the things he thought I should know and frankly, I wasn't all that interested in learning from him. He managed to teach me things anyway when I wasn't noticing and he taught me the nature of numbers... negative and positive, wholes and decimals/fractions... all in a matter of about 30 minutes in front of an oscilloscope. No exaggeration and no joke. That was when the lights came on in my head and frankly, I believe that's all a kid needs -- something to turn the lights on.

      We do have a problem in our schools, but the biggest problem is with our parents. Many people reading me here today are parents. Are you challenging your kids? Are you "tricking" them with riddles and jokes? Are you showing them why wheels are amazing inventions? Do t

      • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:49AM (#32866926)

        More, there is a decrease in the actual participation of adults in play!

        In my experience the opposite is true. I'm old, and when I was young adults were never involved in our play. In the school holidays my mother would organize a day out about once a week but the rest of the time was almost exclusively adult free. There was no TV so my brothers and I had to (dare I say it) create our own entertainment.

        The children I know today spend virtually no time playing in the sense I understood it. When they're not being ferried from one structured (adult led) activity to the next, they're in front of a TV or computer with an adult nearby.

        You think children's lives lack adult involvement. I think they don't get enough time to themselves. God knows which is better for them.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by erroneus ( 253617 )

          Point taken and accepted. I too spent hours and hours with my brothers "playing computer" inside of a cardboard box that once held a refrigerator. (Back on those days, computers were LARGE devices that communicated with people on slips of paper and lots of lights flashing and sounds of machinery and beeping and blipping... blipping and beeping... beeping and blipping!!!!) Logan's Run and Space 1999 were the TV shows I watched and loved among others. It's true that children should be left to their own de

          • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:14PM (#32867502) Homepage Journal

            I think the point is that adults need to be available if needed, but not necessarily directly involved in play.

            When I was growing up, single income families were the norm (typically the father). That meant your mother was home. Neighbors were in general trusted. We could run about the neighborhood in safety. If an adult was needed, it wasn't hard to find one. If you were up to no good, there were enough adults around that you'd be found out eventually.

            Since that time, we've gone to a combination of two income families and single parent families. Meanwhile, nobody feels sure there isn't a serial killer or a molester in the neighborhood (probably because they're too busy working to have cookouts with the neighbors and they haven't quite gotten over "stranger danger").

            Put that together and you have a bunch of kids who aren't ALLOWED to go outside after school. Then (perhaps out of a sense of guilt at not being there) the kids get shuttled off to structured events on the weekend.

            I think you make a good point as well. Kids make mistakes sometimes and there's no need to get an army of psychologists, cops, and judges involved in the vast majority of cases. That goes right up through the teen years.

            I've noticed that it applies to more than just discipline as well. The same injury that caused my dad to ask if I cracked the driveway, some iodine, and a bandage now seems to result in a panicked rush to the E.R.

            There's no one thing, and no quick fix. Sadly, since part of the fix calls for better pay and less hours for the working class, I guess we can just forget about it until the next revolution, those are bad for corporations.

      • by doom ( 14564 ) <> on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:41PM (#32867676) Homepage Journal

        Do they know how to fix a tire on their bicycle? (Do they even ride a bicycle?)

        Are you seriously suggesting that children should be out riding bicycles, unsupervised? This is horribly irresponsible and dangerous behavior. Everyone knows you should never let our child out of the house unless encased in a plastic shell strapped down inside a steel cage, with at least two armed adults to protect it. Otherwise it might be kidnapped by mexican pedophile flying saucers from mars.

    • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sharkman67 ( 548107 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @12:00PM (#32867012)
      Your right on the mark. I live in a affluent New England town with one of the highest rated school systems. I was disgusted with the school system this past year. This year in first grade we got a young (mid 20 yr old) teacher who did nothing but stifle creativity. When I asked about art and music she said that that's what the 'specials' are for. The specials are art, gym, library, music. They only do each one once a week. It was a really struggle to get through the year. I saw the spark in these kids eyes extinguished. Talking to the principal and superintendent of schools yielded no results.

      Last year my daughter had an amazing Kindergarten teacher. One that has been around for 40 years. She constantly bucked the system by really focusing on creativity for the kids. And when they worked hard they were taken outside for extra recess or other activities. She ignored the principal and directives from the school and I tell you the kids that came out of her class are amazing. It's a shame that she is a rare breed these days and I fear the future generations will have no teachers like her....
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:29AM (#32865982) Journal

    I have a rising third grader. I've been informed that the next year will be all about memorization of the necessary facts which will get her to pass the Virginia "Standards Of Learning" (yes, they really call them the SOLs) exam at year end. Everything in the school system, from her promotion to the evaluations of the teachers, administrators, and facility are tied to these scores. There is no creativity required or recommended on these exams.

    • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:47AM (#32866092)
      There is no creativity required or recommended on these exams

      So what? School only lasts a few hours a day. What are you doing for the hours, days, and months between classes to actually make a difference? Creativity is fostered in a big-picture way. Kids will bring creativity to their school work and opportunities if it's a solid part of the environment and circumstances in which they're raised.

      Creativity is declining because parents are washing their hands of the responsibility to shape the minds of their own kids. You don't get an inquisitive, creative mind at school - you arrive at school with one.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No one who is directly involved in the education of children should wash their hands of teaching creativity. Creativity should be fostered at home and at school and teachers should be very much aware of that.

        A part of the problem is that schools focus too much on finding solutions to problems. That's a critical part of problem solving, but the much more crucial part is formulating the problem in the first place. That's a creative process and what is completely missed by teaching to standards.

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:00AM (#32866178)

        Creativity is declining because parents are washing their hands of the responsibility to shape the minds of their own kids. You don't get an inquisitive, creative mind at school - you arrive at school with one.

        Where it is promptly beaten out of you.

        The article didn't say creativity has disappeared. It said it's declining. It doesn't take disinterested parents to do that, all it takes is the removal of one previously encouraging environment to tip the balance in the other direction.

      • by shoemilk ( 1008173 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:07AM (#32866232) Journal
        Yes. It's the school's fault. I am perfect. I raise my kids as they should be: TV, Internet flash games, and pre-determined interactive iPad apps.
      • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:10AM (#32866250)

        School lasts 6 hours a day, which is a pretty big chunk of time. And a lot of that time is spent turning kids into uncreative conformist machines - if they resist that then they label them ADHD and drug the creativity out of them instead.

        But yes the fact that lots of families need both parents to work in order to make ends meet (though that pre-dates the 1990s a little) and that childrens' activities are far more structured than they once were isn't helping.

        • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:24AM (#32866364)

          "6 hours"? You're joking, right?

          The school day (average kid) where I grew up was as follows:
          6 AM: Get out of bed.
          6:30 AM: Be on bus to school. Be Fucking Quiet for an hour, the bus driver didn't want to have to deal with kids.
          7:30 AM: Unload from buses in "orderly fashion."
          7:45 AM: first class begins.
          11:30 AM: Lunch period begins. Orderly file through line, either eat bag lunch or "hot lunch" option. "Be Quiet" as teachers monitor you.
          12:15 PM: here begins "15 minute recess", consisting of 5 minutes of lining up to go outside, 5 minutes of play, 5 minutes of lining up to go back inside.
          12:30 PM: Classes resume.
          4 PM: Reload on buses. Once again, Be Fucking Quiet.
          5-5:30 PM: Get back home, depending on traffic.
          5:30 PM-6:30PM: Dinner.
          6:30PM-8PM: "Homework", consisting of the boring fucking busy-work that nevertheless will fuck your grades over if you don't do it.
          8pm-9PM: optional (PARENT option, not kid option) practicing of musical instrument or singing if you were enrolled in Music Concentration Camp... er "Music Class" of some sort where we never got to perform anything truly interesting.

          Small wonder the kids have no creativity. The fact that I have mine still is only a function of the fact that I convinced most of my teachers to just give me the homework listings ahead of time and let me do it during school time sitting in the back of class, rather than wasting my evenings on the fucking busy work.

          • I had roughly the same schedule, but I didn't bother paying attention or doing my homework so I saved myself several hours a day. I think that was pretty creative thinking on my part.

            Also, back then normal people couldn't afford laptops, so I would work out my BASIC and Pascal programs in a notebook and use the power of my imagination compile them. That's what I did most of the time when I wasn't paying attention.

          • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:05AM (#32866630) Homepage

            Small wonder the kids have no creativity.

            I had the same schedule, as did millions of other kids of my generation - and we're in the demographic where creativity was rising, and continued to rise for a decade after we graduate high school.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          If that's what your school district is like, I would suggest you either get involved and try to make some changes or move.

          When we relocated in 2008, the quality of the local public schools is largely why we picked the house we did. Yes, our property taxes are fairly high ($8000+ / year on a $250k house), but we have a public school within walking distance with small classes (20-22 kids), art, music, and theater teachers, a clean new building and a very active parent base.

          I don't see anybody trying to change

      • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:37AM (#32866438)

        When I was kid, I remember playing with a stick and imagined it was a sword and a gun and a spear and a lightsabre and a shovel and ...
        Now parents will buy the kid a play-lightsabre. You can not imagine that to be a shovel or a gun. You could use it as such, but it isn't one in your mind. The stick WAS everything I wanted it to be.

        When I was young, I read books and imagined how each person looked like. That part is gone. Many kids now have a fixed image of characters and how they must look like. Getting an image imprinted in your memory is the opposite of imagination.

    • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:05AM (#32866208) Journal

      Let me clarify: in my house, creativity is highly encouraged. We work with my daughter every night (though not in a "structured" way that feels like work). She's a wonderful child who loves music and theater, is reading about 4 grades above her "level", and is on par in math.

      The problem is that the regimented way in which some things are taught can lead to problems in learning. After a very poorly presented math year in first grade, we spent most of last year trying to "undo" the damage. She's terrified of subtraction (first grade), and yet multiplication and fractions (second grade) are "fun." It took us most of first grade to figure out that the teacher didn't like math, so she tried not to teach it - just timed workbooks and tests.

      I do think that more than half of the problems in school stem from problems at home. It seems that very few (one in ten, one in eight?) families actually work with their children in a meaningful way. The rest are left to drift, or are actively discouraged from academic pursuits. After long days at work, the parents are tired and don't really want the burden of teaching anything. Sad, really.

    • by krou ( 1027572 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:41AM (#32866454)

      In the words of Woodrow Wilson, "We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forego the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."

      Creativity is not conducive to performing difficult manual tasks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zippthorne ( 748122 )

      Third grade? Yeah, there ought to be a lot of memorization going on in third grade. You need to have built a foundation of facts before you can be lead to conclusions connecting them. Third grade is your solid rock of foundation, of course you're going to need to memorize a lot of things. That's not the only thing that should be going on, but I doubt that even in your daughter's school that it is the case that that's all they're doing.

      I can almost guarantee, however, that there is nothing in the testin

  • Expected (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wonko the Sane ( 25252 ) * on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:37AM (#32866028) Journal

    If you're familiar with the founding principals [] of the public education system this isn't a surprise. Schools were intentionally designed by early 20th century psychologists to reduce creativity and increase conformity.

    If anything, it's surprising that it took this long before this effect started to manifest.

    • Re:Expected (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:12AM (#32866262) Homepage

      John Taylor Gatto's writings are essentially the ravings of a crackpot. Clear refutations of his thesis that compulsory public schooling is evil include:

      • Countries that are beating the pants of the US in education (and demonstrating continued creativity) have even great enshrinement of public education in law, with homeschooling or parochial schooling virtually unheard of.
      • Gatto's vision of a pre-public education US where everyone was free and freethinking, determined to protect liberty at all costs, is essentially National Romantic hyperbole, and ignores the torrent of histories published over the last several decades which show that the US has always been dominated by oppressive elites and monied interests in spite of its claim to equal opportunity.
      • Gatto claims that US public education teaches people to accept their own social class and stay there, but again, there are countries that show greater class mobility than the US and have an even greater enshrinement of public education.
      • Re:Expected (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Wonko the Sane ( 25252 ) * on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:21AM (#32866338) Journal

        The culprit isn't necessary public education - it's the implementation of it that is practiced in the US today. Gatto has plenty of good things to say about public education as it was implemented throughout most of the 19th century and before.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bmajik ( 96670 )

        You could read "Education: Free and Compulsory", by Murray Rothbard. It's available as an online PDF from, iirc.

        Of course, you will probably decide he is also a "crackpot".

        The US has a relatively unique set of problems that many other places do not suffer from. I frankly do not care how things work in other places - I am concerned with how they can be made to work here, especially for my children.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Barrinmw ( 1791848 )
        I hate that first point, always have. An example is our high school students being compared to high school students in Japan. I am sure if we kicked out our lower 50% from high school and sent them to a trade school instead our scores would be higher too.
  • by Myji Humoz ( 1535565 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:37AM (#32866032)
    From the article:

    "It&rsquo;s too early to determine conclusively why U.S. creativity scores are declining. One likely culprit is the number of hours kids now spend in front of the TV and playing videogames rather than engaging in creative activities. Another is the lack of creativity development in our schools. In effect, it&rsquo;s left to the luck of the draw who becomes creative: there&rsquo;s no concerted effort to nurture the creativity of all children."

    One of the test questions was &ldquo;How could you improve this toy to make it better and more fun to play with?&rdquo;

    If you went to the average TV viewer and asked them what could make their T.V. shows better, I sincerely doubt that they could give a succinct and "creative" set of ideas that would improve various shows. If you asked a video gamer for say an MMO like WoW or even a browser game like Farmville what suggestions they have to improve the games, you would probably have to gag them to get them to shut up. For video game fans, new ideas (some of them quite creative workarounds) are a dime a dozen, and the challenge is filtering them to find the best ideas for how to gear/play a character or how to run a farm.

    Video games are almost perpetually linked with television by virtue of being activities in which one sits down in front of a glowing screen, but video games tend to be highly interactive with constant feedback/user response while television is nearly 100% passive. (American Idol voting doesn't count) I would agree that the increase of mindshare and time devoted to passive pursuits could decrease creativity, but I really wish that the media would, as a group, get a better idea of how different video games and television shows are. The difference between games and t.v. is the difference between using a kitchen knife to chop vegetables and using a kitchen knife to stab people, yet again, video games are taking more blame for making our kids less creative than the school systems' standardized tests and performance obsessed culture.
  • Cable TV? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ciggieposeur ( 715798 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:38AM (#32866036)

    1980-1990 seems about the time cable television became more common than OTA TV. OTA TV used to be very boring for children, but cable brought Nickelodeon and the Disney channel in homes to become defacto babysitters for millions of kids.

    • The War on Drugs? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:54AM (#32866552) Homepage

      Pot smoking among school kids went down by the early '80s. I'd cite statistics, but those are all suspect, being produced to support claims for the effectiveness of government programs (in a word, "creative"). Still, there can be no doubt by any serious cultural critic that creativity in Western Civilization peaked in the '60s, along with peak use of creativity-enhancing drugs. Because that creativity was perceived as - and may have been - politically dangerous, it and the drug use which enhances it have been discouraged since.

  • by paper tape ( 724398 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:39AM (#32866040)
    The inevitable result of being taught to accept everything they are taught without question, rather than being taught the basics and critical thinking, is that students mostly stop asking important questions. Even if they do ask, they depend on someone else to provide "the one true answer" - because they don't have the tools to arrive at a useful answer on their own.
    • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:07AM (#32866646)

      Even if they do ask, they depend on someone else to provide "the one true answer" - because they don't have the tools to arrive at a useful answer on their own.

      Which provides for a compliant, easily manipulable population. Remove the capacity to handle mathematics and even basic statistics, and you have people who literally can be told what to think.

  • by v(*_*)vvvv ( 233078 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:40AM (#32866052)

    Music teaches focus. Art cannot be done without fully applying yourself. Sports teaches teamwork and pragmatic execution. Yet we cut all that and emphasize stuff in text books, as if they were bibles. No wonder creativity is stuck in a pot hole.

    Anyone with any slight interest in the topic must see:
    Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity? []

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Overzeetop ( 214511 )

      Without conformity, there is no order
      Without creativity, there is no enjoyment

      We need both, but "success" in society requires a minimum level of bookish competence. I think our definition of success (middle class lifestyle, as practiced in the US) has outstripped the intellectual ability of the average human. Nonetheless, we keep focusing on drilling them with facts that we think will get people into jobs which will provide them with food, shelter, healthcare, and recreation they expect. The constant race

  • CQ (Score:5, Funny)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:41AM (#32866054) Homepage

    How do you measure creativity anyway?

    90 for people that give all the correct answers.
    90-100 for everybody that fills in answers that have nothing to do with the questions.
    100-110 for those that draw pretty pixelated pictures using the multiple choice boxes.
    110-120 for the people that draw pretty pictures outside the boxes.
    130+ when they make the questionaire form into paper mache.

  • by neongrau ( 1032968 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:51AM (#32866118)
    especially in the last years parents pumping their kids full of behavior adjusting drugs? Ritalin maybe?
  • by drewhk ( 1744562 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:53AM (#32866132)

    Creativity tests... heh. Most of these tests are completely ridiculous.

    I remember one of these tests where totally stupid answers were given points, just because they are "original". I hate people that think of themselves as "creative", yet, they cannot come up with something PRACTICALLY USEFUL. You can be "very original" and "totally irrelevant" at the same time. For me, creativity means original and usable (in a broad sense -- amusing, entertaining, enthralling, etc count as useful, too).

    I hate even more those people that cry "all these rules just hamper my creativity". Again, bullshit! Limitations often stimulate creativity. Puzzles are all about limits on the solution space. Many writers, painters, poems made up artificial limits for themselves, just to see, what can they do within those limitations. Also, any engineer has to think inside some box, as the final result has to be useful and relevant to the problem at hand. Physicists are limited by the laws of nature -- still, many physicists are very creative -- especially because they have to use seemingly limiting laws to their benefit. Hacking is also a great example where the whole process is about seemingly bending the limits, but you really stay inside them, you just discover ways that were unexpected to be existing inside that "box". Logic is also a limitation. Are you original just because you deny logic? Sometimes yes (in these cases you end up with an augmented logic), but most of the times, no.

    Rant off.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) *

      I think that currently the most frequently bumped against limits are limits imposed by structures of authority. Frequently these limits are arbitrary, capricious and imposed post-hoc, and their violation comes with severe punishments. I think those kinds of limits are dampening rather than inspirational.

      • by drewhk ( 1744562 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:17AM (#32866296)

        "Frequently these limits are arbitrary, capricious and imposed post-hoc, and their violation comes with severe punishments."

        Yes, those limits are bad.

        But many of the whiners complain about limitations that are not like this. I knew people crying about mathematics problems as they are "hampering their creativity", but in fact, they were just not smart enough to solve the problem. Many of these people think about arts as the most creative thing on earth. While arts involve a lot of creativity, so does engineering.

  • by arthurpaliden ( 939626 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:54AM (#32866138)
    In order to ensure childres safety they are placed and encuraged stay in secuer safe 'creative' environments. Classic example, who here below tha age of 50 has every seen or even played with a 'real' chemistry set.
  • I blame TV! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Elrac ( 314784 ) < minus author> on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:55AM (#32866144) Homepage Journal

    If some evil mad scientist were to undertake building a device to systematically destroy creative thinking in humans, I doubt he could do better than the TV programming of this past decade.

  • by Monsieur Canard ( 766354 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:59AM (#32866168)

    This is yet another example of the dangers inherent in over-parenting. "Don't climb that tree!" "Don't find out what dirt tastes like!" "Don't take the toy apart!"

    This naturally evolves into the adult version. "Don't take pictures of that bridge!" "Don't try to find out what's behind that wall!" "Don't question anything your leaders tell you!"

    It's all part of the plan.

  • by Tisha_AH ( 600987 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:00AM (#32866174) Journal

    Education in America today is focused almost exclusively on memorizing the tests that will be used to determine school performance. Little emphasis is placed upon creative thinking, deductive logic or expression.

    It is no surprise that we are turning out "trained rats" who can perform a specific set of tasks to pass a test but do not have adequate skills to function in a society where creativity is the driving force for progress.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PPH ( 736903 )

      It is no surprise that we are turning out "trained rats" who can perform a specific set of tasks to pass a test

      Post on Slashdot, get 5 mod points.

      Post on Slashdot, get 5 mod points.

      etc. ......

  • by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) * <> on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:04AM (#32866194) Homepage Journal

    I have noticed a distinct trend towards authoritarianism in American culture in the past 20 years. And this has been most especially pronounced in schools. Authoritarianism and creativity are at direct odds with each other.

    My own HS started making changes shortly after I graduated in 1989. They started restricting student's ability to go off campus during the day. And I haven't really gone back to find out what else has changed, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's a lot more locked down than when I went.

    I think America became afraid of its young people. There was this idea that young people were becoming increasingly violent and uncontrollable. For example, stories of cold-blooded killings and gang membership became the impetus for changing the laws so it was much more likely juveniles would be prosecuted as adults.

    But I think there was more to it than that, and I'm not completely sure where the wrong turn was taken or what it was.

    • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:22AM (#32866348) Journal

      The controls were put in place mainly to shield the schools from litigation. Schools don't have BP-style resources, so every dollar counts. Let's face it, the average family can't afford to send their kids to school (it's about $10k/student for public, somewhete between $17k-20k for private), so there's not going to be any new influx of cash in schools.

      Some of the controls (I got out of HS in 87) were to prevent vandalism/waste - like making the copier off limits to students, though my best friend in HS and I were the only two, save the principal, who could fix minor problems with it. Much of it stems from very rare, isolated cases of injury/loss/death during school hours while the students were not accounted for. There is no wrath like a parent who has lost a child. When you have to have a perfect safety record with several thousand unpredictable teens 180 days out of the year, things get a little crazy.

      We're not afraid of them, per se, but afraid something will happen to them. A college student gets drunk and falls out of a 4th story window to her death, so the college welds all of the windows shut. An appropriate response? To the parents who no longer have a daughter it would have prevented her death. Won't you think of the children?

  • by drolli ( 522659 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:07AM (#32866226) Journal
    I grew up in a surrounding which i pretty much could understand (lets exclude politics here) at age 10. I was presented with toys which you can use to build sth yourself (lego bricks, later lego technics, electronics experimental kits). I was not allowed to watch television unsupervised and in average maybe watched 30 minutes per day. I helped renovate the parents house and played outside in the forest. When i started to play computer games i knew how they were programmed. Which means that for me the fun and the possibilities to do sth depended on and grew with comprehending the world and finding creative ways to use this understanding. To me it seems that kids today are raised under a different paradigm: give them an extreme amount of toys which are completely incomprehensible - and no level on comprehension which the kid could achieve will enable it to reshape this toy. An DVD player will never do anything else. Even computer are castrated nowadays (Hello, who of us did not start programming with typing something on the C128 for curiosity) to be game-consoles only. Electronics kit can never come close - even qualitatively - to the millions of gadgets surrounding us, I dont even want to talk about the sense of security which would forbid that children modify their bikes. Nothing which you paint, write, do, will compare to the best amateur thing you find on the internet. So let me formulate that way: we have raised the level of intelligence and knowledge required before creativity pays of visibly to a level not achievable for most of the kids.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I grew up with toy bricks (not Lego), Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Erector (Meccano) Sets, chemistry sets, electronic kits, etc.

      My own children were given much of the same things; but chemistry sets and electronic kits don't exist any more.

      As a child I took toys apart and put them back together, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. I built forts in the neighboring empty lots and fields. I went on all day exploratory bike rides. In junior high and high school I had wood/metal/electronics/print shop classes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Why do you type sth when you don't abbreviate anything else? Is that creativity in action? Kids still play with Lego. It's still enormously popular. I have 4 nephews and a niece. The boys all have and love Lego.

  • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:19AM (#32866318)
    It was around 1980 that everything started to "just work". Cars, TV sets and so on became increasingly reliable and standardised. Food came increasingly pre-packed and pre-prepared. People simply do not need to be inventive and curious in order to get things done, in fact, it's often illegal; good luck with modifying a car nowadays. At the very least your insurance will be invalidated. On the rare occasion something goes wrong, scrap and replace or call a specialist.

    I've sometimes thought, looking back at my own career in engineering, that my problem solving ability has got in the way of promotion. It's actually easier and more effective to find someone else to fix the problem, or persuade management that the problem doesn't need fixing (kill the product, for instance). And, if you aren't spending a lot of time on the 98% of perspiration that follows the 2% of inspiration, you have time to play golf with the boss and network your next promotion.

    I think the rot really set in when the word "consumer" became a generic term for everybody. Umberto Eco made this point once, showing how industrial exhibitions had gone from showcasing technology (buy one of these and you can make whatever you can imagine) to showcasing products (buy one of these and your life as a consumer will be better.)

    Schools only reflect society. If teachers are mostly consumers, they won't see the value of (genuine) creativity.

  • by bytesex ( 112972 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:20AM (#32866332) Homepage

    This sounds like a test developed by baby boomers to test baby-boomerishness in people. It's the get-of-my-lawn test.

  • by taskiss ( 94652 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:53AM (#32866544)

    The Interpretation of Torrance Creativity Scores.

    This study tests the appropriateness of Torrance's assumptions of trait independence and the combinability of measures (Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking) with respect to the scoring of the tests for a younger population and estimates the homogeneity of the scores. The sample consisted of 128 elementary school children. Results indicate that separate scoring for fluency, flexibility, and originality traits is not warranted, because any special dispositions for these traits that may exist are overwhelmed by the task specificity of the scores. It is suggested that the Torrance scores reveal nothing interesting about the individual, and the report contends that use of more than a single score from the Torrance battery makes little sense. The major question still unanswered is when, if ever, it makes sense to use a score from the Torrance battery.

  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:03AM (#32866608) Homepage


    Any time you begin to enter a culture of control and conservatism (not just a machinery of, but a culture of, in which agency, originality, and deviation are considered morally/ethically wrong), you'll find that people begin to frown on creativity. Innovation is nothing more than deviance with a positive outcome. In an value system that places a premium on nondeviance and sees it as a primary measure of status on the one hand, and that normalizes or obscures awareness of the importance of others' deviance/innovation on the other (read: political and market-oriented historical revisionism the change in our understand of knowledge to that of a commodity to be manufactured), there will be no innovation.

    Basically, intellectual property is killing innovation. 9/11 and the war on terror are killing innovation. Big capital is killing innovation.

    Where you have a field of perfectly efficient and predictable consumers, you have zero innovation and creativity quotient. By definition.

  • troublesome tests (Score:3, Insightful)

    by __aapspi39 ( 944843 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:19AM (#32866724)

    i always found the Flynn effect to be quite interesting - given that it is demonstrates quite clearly that IQ is something that is down to the environment and has little to do with innate or genetically determined factors.

    imho, unless you looking to 'scientifically' justify right-wing or racist ideas then this would be fairly obvious to anyone who's interested.

    i'm naturally rather suspicious of any similar such test for creativity - to try to capture or measure something as nebulous a concept as creativity seems at face value to be troublesome.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Having an environmental element doesn't mean there isn't a genetic element. Nature and nurture are basically coefficients in many things, intelligence included. Height has well known genetic components, but malnutrition can cause someone with genes for being tall to be significantly shorter.
  • Idiocracy (Score:3, Informative)

    by littlewink ( 996298 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:30AM (#32866802)

    I watched the movie Idiocracy [] last night and got a sense of our culture's non-creative future, 500-some odd years removed.

    In one scene the time clock spins forward over centuries, pausing intermittently only to capture a single image of a restaurant storefront in evolution: "FuddRuckers" devolves to "RuddPuckers", "PudSuckers", etc. (or some such). When the clock stops the culture has christened the restaurant "ButtFuckers".

    Apparently the references to FuddRuckers, Costco, Starbucks et al caused Fox to bury the film, which portrays a future where creativity and intelligence have largely disappeared.

  • Necessity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:43AM (#32866878)
    Necessity is the mother of invention, sufficiency is her lazy childless brother, and opulance is the serial killer who lives next door.
  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @12:10PM (#32867062)

    1.Kids arent being allowed to be kids anymore. When I was a kid in primary school, I used to take my 2 bucks pocket money on a Saturday morning and go tearing out of the house, down the street and across the local oval to the local shop to spend the 2 bucks on assorted lollies, most likely shouting who knows what at the top of my lungs at the same time.

    Kids need to be kids, they need to be allowed to go outside and play, to kick a footy (Aussie Rules football) or a soccer ball with their mates, to get out in the fresh air.

    2.TV, kids are watching more of it than ever (and what they DO watch gets worse and worse, a lot of what passes for kids TV these days is pathetic compared to what was on when I was a kid)

    3.Lack of creative toys. These days parents are more likely to buy their kids a Nintendo Wii instead of toys that encourage creativity and imagination. Instead of playing with a GI-JOE action figure or a pack of army soldiers making "Pew Pew" noises, kids are playing video games where the "Pew Pew" noise is created by some guy in a sound studio.

    4.The ever increasing pressure on schools to "perform" (and to "perform better" than the school one suburb over). This leads to pressure on politicians to institute measuring systems (usually in the form of standardized tests) so that they can see which schools are doing well and which schools arent. Then, the school principals (fearful that bad scores will negatively impact the schools funding) force teachers to "teach to the test" so that schools can get higher scores (and keep their funding). Courses and lessons like music, art, dance and drama are being removed from schools as they continue to focus more on academic performance and (for those kids who show talent) performance on the football pitch or the basketball court or whatever.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"