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The beauty of creativity is there’s never one right answer. Creativity, by definition, is the production of something original and useful; it’s the culmination of divergent thinking and convergent thinking, where out-of-box ideas are united into a working solution.
Children are thought to harness a lot of creativity. Maybe it’s because of all their colourful finger paintings, or the games they invent and play with friends.
But now, that might all be changing. Psychologists are finding that America’s youth are becoming less creative. After 50 years of testing millions of children, we are witnessing the first-ever decline in their ability to be innovative.
Newsweek writes: “Scholars have been tracking the children, recording every patent earned, every business founded, every research paper published, and every grant awarded…Those who came up with more good ideas on [psychologists’] tasks grew up to be entrepreneurs, inventors, college presidents, authors, doctors, diplomats, and software developers.”
Creativity tests are like intelligence tests. Psychologists administer tasks to subjects and test for quality of ideas, quantity of ideas, and other creative traits. But unlike intelligence, where generations have shown increasing scores over time, creativity has been trending the reverse. Kyung Hee Kim, a psychology professor at the College of William & Mary, found American creativity scores have fallen significantly since 1990.
According to Kim, children have decreased in idea fluency (quantity), originality, and elaboration. They are also struggling with abstractness of titles (knowing what’s important), and they resist open-mindedness.
What’s to blame? It is hard to say, but it’s easy to point fingers at technology. Kim suggests less outdoor play time and more time in front of computers may be the culprits. Classroom settings that lack creative development may be another cause.
But with technology advances, does creativity really matter as much as it used to? Newsweek seems to think so, citing a recent IBM poll were 1,500 CEOs listed creativity as the number one “leadership competency” of the future.
Kim suggests a few ways to help reverse the trend. Parents can raise nonconformists, be less protective of their children, and teach their children in nonconventional ways.
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