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Why are American kids losing their creativity?

July 20, 2010

American creativity scores are falling, Newsweek magazine reports. While intelligence scores rise with each generation as enriched environments make kids smarter, researchers at the College of William & Mary have identified a reverse trend for creativity. Newsweek defines creativity as the production of something original and useful, and says it requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) followed by convergent thinking, in which those ideas are combined into the best result.

After analyzing the creativity scores of almost 300,000 children and adults, researcher Kyung Hee Kim found they had been steadily rising until 1990, but have consistently inched downward since then. The decline is most serious for younger children in America, from kindergarten through sixth grade, he says. And the potential consequences are sweeping, Newsweek reports.

Matters of national and international importance cry out for creative solutions, from saving the Gulf of Mexico to bringing peace to Afghanistan to delivering health care. Such solutions emerge when the populace is constantly contributing original ideas and receptive to the ideas of others, the magazine writes. Likely culprits depressing U.S. creativity scores are the hours kids spend watching TV and playing video games rather than engaging in creative activities, and the lack of creativity development in our schools. Meanwhile, other countries around the world are making creativity development a national priority. At the University of New Mexico, neuroscientist Rex Jung reportedly has concluded that those who diligently practice creative activities learn to recruit their brains’ creative networks quicker and better. — Greg Beaubien


Mariana says:

I believe American parents should not be scared to let their kids to be “bored”. Growing up, I remember that when I did not have anything that I wanted to do around the house, I would have to entertain myself on my own. Go after paper boxes and recycles and make something out of it…use my imagination to save my self from my boredom.

July 21, 2010

Karen says:

A big part of the problem is the overscheduling of children's free time. Kids are run from one lesson to another, from adult organized sports to child care programs that structure the whole day. They don't have time to think, to dream, to create their own games and act out their own stories, or to make things out of nothing, as Mariana says. Add to that the total focus in school on test scores, and kids are missing out on everything we don't measure. Sad, sad, sad.

July 22, 2010

Andrew Johnson says:

Sadly I am witnessing this negative phenomenon daily in my classroom with Jr High social studies students. I think video games are playing a role as well.

Nov. 12, 2013

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