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