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The Decline of Creativity

Posted July 21st, 2010 by Carroll King Schuller

Last week, Newsweek published a fantastic — but sad — article about the a decline in the creativity of US school children.

“The Creativity Crisis” discusses findings from a series of “Torrance tests” (named after their inventor, psychologist Paul Torrance).

Torrance tests involve asking participants perform tasks related to divergent thinking and other problem-solving skills, which are then scored on three scales:

  1. Fluency. The total number of interpretable, meaningful, and relevant ideas generated in response to the stimulus.
  2. Originality. The statistical rarity of the responses.
  3. Elaboration. The amount of detail in the responses.

Unlike IQ scores which have been steadily inching up over the past few decades, CQ (Creativity Quotient) scores have been in decline since around 1990. Up for vigorous debate is why creativity scores are falling and what we can do to bring those scores back up.

The questions raised by these declining scores are important:

  • How did you learn to be creative? Did someone “teach” you?
  • Would students benefit from “creativity” class in the same way they benefit from math or history?
  • If it isn’t possible to teach creativity in a formal, structured setting (like a school), where do and can we learn to be creative?
  • What’s at stake in losing our ability to create and innovate? How can we prevent that from happening?

So keep creativity alive! Open yourself to new experiences, new ideas and new approaches. Play and experiment. Instead of watching TV, draw and write and work equations. Debate with your friends. Build something. Sing and play cards and dance in your spare time. Teach your kids to do likewise.