The Creativity Crisis

This morning, after sending off yet another job application, I caught up on a little bit of reading. I love my Google Reader, but sheesh, there’s so much information at any given time. It’s hard to process and read it all. Today I did find a pretty interesting article about creativity and how it’s decreasing in children these days:

THE CREATIVITY CRISIS: For the first time, research shows that American creativity is declining. What went wrong—and how we can fix it.

Back in 1958, Ted Schwarzrock was an 8-year-old third grader when he became one of the ´Torrance kids,´ a group of nearly 400 Minneapolis children who completed a series of creativity tasks newly designed by professor E. Paul Torrance. Schwarzrock still vividly remembers the moment when a psychologist handed him a fire truck and asked, ´How could you improve this toy to make it better and more fun to play with?” He recalls the psychologist being excited by his answers. In fact, the psychologist’s session notes indicate Schwarzrock rattled off 25 improvements, such as adding a removable ladder and springs to the wheels. That wasn’t the only time he impressed the scholars, who judged Schwarzrock to have ´unusual visual perspective” and ´an ability to synthesize diverse elements into meaningful products.”

The accepted definition of creativity is pro´duction of something original and useful, and that’s what’s reflected in the tests. There is never one right answer. To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).

In the 50 years since Schwarzrock and the others took their tests, scholars—first led by Torrance, now his colleague, Garnet Millar—have been tracking the children, recording every patent earned, every business founded, every research paper published, and every grant awarded. They tallied the books, dances, radio shows, art exhibitions, software programs, advertising campaigns, hardware innovations, music compositions, public policies (written or implemented), leadership positions, invited lectures, and buildings designed.

Nobody would argue that Torrance’s tasks, which have become the gold standard in creativity assessment, measure creativity perfectly. What’s shocking is how incredibly well Torrance’s creativity index predicted those kids’ creative accomplishments as adults. Those who came up with more good ideas on Torrance’s tasks grew up to be entrepreneurs, inventors, college presidents, authors, doctors, diplomats, and software developers. Jonathan Plucker of Indiana University recently reanalyzed Torrance’s data. The correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ.

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…

Published by Emily Duncan, on July 10th, 2010 at 1:57 pm. Filled under: Art News,Creativity,FYI Tags: , , , 2 Comments

On Motivation and Coloring Books for Adults

I’ve hit a low point in my motivation this week.  I don’t know what it is.  Maybe a third or fourth wave of culture shock.  I feel really cranky and my Japanese speaking skills are still not great.  Which is enhanced by the willingness of around me having no problem commenting on how silly I sound.

I was online today searching for stuff for the English lesson I have to do tonight.  I work with a family for an hour each monday.  Four kids, aged 11, 9, 6, and 4.  They’re  sweet, but the two youngest are manic as hell.  No matter what game I come up with at some point the 6 yr old or the 4 year old (either taking turns or at the same time) start crying.  I then have to refuse to play and just wait for the 11 year old to police the situation. Which is what they seem to want any way.  Still it’s frustrating because I’m planning activities way below the 11 year old’s level and when I do stuff that’s accessible for the younger children it always ends in fighting.

I end up getting paid about 4,000 yen (about $35) for sticking out the hour.  I just wonder what the mother thinks when she hears the screaming and stuff from the other room.  My guess is that she’s in the kitchen, drinking a beer and watching the clock.  Happy for her one hour off a week.

After many weeks of making my best attempt at planning games, I’m going back to one of my favorites: coloring.  The kids love it, I love it.  There’s no bickering – save for who gets which color.

I decided to mix it up today and searched for Japanese webpages with coloring activities.  I’ll write the English names of objects next to the pictures and run off copies.  In searching, I remembered how popular coloring books for adults are in Japan.  My guess is that it’s a good stress reliever.  You can check out the page I found here.  If that’s not enough you can always copy and paste 大人塗り絵 (otona nurie) into Google.

My most favorite page, though, is the colorable lessons for kids. Little slogans.  Like, “Let’s wash our hands,” or “Let’s brush our teeth.”  They also have “Poop in the toilet!”

Published by Emily Duncan, on August 27th, 2007 at 12:15 pm. Filled under: Life in Japan Tags: , , , No Comments