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The Creativity Crisis

Posted on July 30, 2010

Authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman discuss the decline in creativity among Americans in their recently published article “The Creativity Crisis” in Newsweek Magazine. Creativity is the production of something original and useful and requires divergent thinking skills (generating many ideas) and convergent thinking skills (combining those ideas for the best result). Kyung Hee Kim of the College of William and Mary analyzed the creativity scores of 300,000 children and adults over time and found that American creativity scores were on the rise until 1990 and then started to fall. The article entertains several hypotheses, from increased tv and video game time, to standardized education to explain for the fall in creativity scores in the 1990’s.

While there is no clear cause for the creativity decline researchers like James C. Kaufman of California State University, San Bernardino are finding that creativity can be taught. The article goes on to talk about progressive schools like the National Inventors Hall of Fame School in Akron, OH that are using project-based learning methods and finding that children are not only enjoying school they are mastering the demands of curriculum requirements while utilizing creative thinking and problem solving skills to learn. If finding children enjoying school wasn’t a hard enough sell for encouraging creative thinking in schools, in the first year of opening the school’s state achievement scores placed them among one of the top 3 schools in Akron, Ohio.

Despite the decline in creativity scores among children over the past 20 years, there is hope that with a better understanding of the creative process, policymakers, educators, and caregivers will be better able to foster a sense of creativity throughout a child’s development.

Read The Creativity Crisis.

Read more about how to foster creativity.

Listen to Po Bronson, James Kaufman, and Robert Slavin discuss issues of creativity on NPR. 

If you are interested in learning more about this area, the following Schubert Center faculty associates conduct research on similar topics:

Sandra Russ, PhD

  • Dr. Russ’ research interests include investigating how creativity and pretend play is involved in child development and understanding the role of affect in the creative process.

Elizabeth Short, PhD

  • Dr. Short’s research interests include cognitive development in preschoolers and school-aged children; cognitive, metacognitive, affective, and motivational factors that impact academic achievement; and individual differences in learning.
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