A new study shows that current emphasis placed on memorization and test taking is Leaving The Children Behind on the creative front. Yes, kids today are duller and less creative than ever.*
Researchers analyzed several "creativity tests" to identify trends. MSNBC reports,
In a 2010 study of about 300,000 creativity tests going back to the 1970s, Kyung Hee Kim, a creativity researcher at the College of William and Mary, found creativity has decreased among American children in recent years. Since 1990, children have become less able to produce unique and unusual ideas. They are also less humorous, less imaginative and less able to elaborate on ideas, Kim said.
After Generation X and the (shudder) Milennials comes Generation Y, as in Yawn. Kids are now less able to exhibit patterns of divergent thinking (coming up with new and original ideas) and in imaginative play. As tempting as it may be, we can't blame the parents or the children; we can blame politicians.
Kim said No Child Left Behind, an act of Congress passed in 2001 that requires schools to administer annual standardized tests as a way to assess whether they are meeting state education standards, may be partly responsible for the drop in creativity scores.
"I believe No Child Left Behind … really hurt creativity," Kim said. "If we just focus on just No Child Left Behind - testing, testing, testing - then how can creative students survive?" Kim said. Other culprits may be the rise in TV watching, a passive activity that doesn't require interactions with others, Kim said.
Standardized tests force children to think of learning as a quest to give the answer that the teacher seeks rather than coming up with imaginative alternative answers or exploring other ways to solve a problem. It also Because teachers are under so much pressure to produce test-passing students, cultivating creativity gets left by the wayside. And it certainly doesn't help that both Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss are dead.
On an anecdotal note, a lack of creativity in students is seriously cramping the style of friends and associates who teach at universities. "Students look aggrieved if you ask them a question that wasn't fact-based and wasn't in the reading," a college-teaching crony of mine recently complained. Others have remarked that many students make a fear grimace when asked to combine ideas from multiple sources, to extrapolate conclusions
How do we solve our nation's deficit in non-robo children? By cultivating creativity. By encouraging children to be weird. By exploring a child's unorthodox answer to a question, as it may lead to more knowledge. But mostly by turning off the TV and never letting Republicans set national educational policy.
*Except, of course, not your kid. Your kid's awesome.