Creativity Crisis

Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.

Edward de Bono

The word “creativity,” in our society, tends to be applied to artistic endeavors. But creative thinking is an essential part of everyday life, whether it’s navigating office politics or devising a new social-media network.

When a toddler figures out that he can climb a strategically placed chair to reach a cookie on the kitchen counter, he has engaged in highly creative problem solving (whether his parents like it or not!). Our job as parents and teachers is to help kids fulfill a child’s creative potential.

Whether that potential is being fulfilled is another story entirely. Kyung Hee Kim, Ph.D., an educational psychologist at the College of William & Mary, in Virginia, has spent the past decade poring over the creativity scores of more than 300,000 American K—12 students. The news is not good: “Creativity scores have significantly decreased since 1990,” she says. Moreover, “creativity scores for kindergartners through third-graders decreased the most, and those from the fourth through sixth grades decreased by the next largest amount.”

The scores Kim is referring to are those generated by the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking—the standard-bearer in assessing creativity in children since the 1960s. In fact, the results of the Torrance Tests are also better indicators of lifetime creative accomplishment than childhood IQ. The tests consist of open-ended questions, such as “How many uses can you think of for a toothbrush?” Scores are awarded based on the number and originality of the ideas produced. A creative child might respond by saying that he can brush his cat’s teeth, polish a rock, and clean his fingernails—all answers that show dexterity in generating a wide range of potentially useful ideas.

This unique ability is one that will be crucial to the workforce of the future. Today’s toddler faces a universe of rapidly evolving technology, an ever-shifting global economy, and far-reaching health and environmental challenges—scenarios that will require plenty of creative thinking.

In the ISBerne context, next week begins the annual Performing Arts Week. The students will experience a collapsed timetable as they work with students from other PYP grade levels with a common focus on creative thinking. Our students will be guided on a journey of taking an idea and evolving it onto a creative performance….some will be on the stage, others will be behind the scenes.

You can expect regular posts on this blog next week as we chronical the creative process and teamwork in action as our students pull together a show in a week!

Scott Jackson
Principal ISBerne



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