A major story in a recent edition of Newsweek* declares we have a creativity crisis is the US.

The authors base that screaming headline on the fact that scores on an assessment that seems to accurately predict kids “creative accomplishments as adults”, have been declining since 1990, after rising steadily since the test was first administered in the 50’s.

The fall in creativity scores has been “most serious” in younger children, kindergarden through 6th grade.

Why is this happening?

One likely culprit is the number of hours kids now spend in front of the TV and playing videogames rather than engaging in creative activities. Another is the lack of creativity development in our schools. In effect, it’s left to the luck of the draw who becomes creative: there’s no concerted effort to nurture the creativity of all children. (emphasis mine)

The writers correctly spotlight as one of the educational causes the testing culture in most schools that squeezes out any thought of teaching art, music, dance, or other activities thought of as “creative”.

However, they also make the even more valid point that there’s very little creative about how students are taught in their “core” subjects.

Researchers say creativity should be taken out of the art room and put into homeroom. The argument that we can’t teach creativity because kids already have too much to learn is a false trade-off. Creativity isn’t about freedom from concrete facts. Rather, fact-finding and deep research are vital stages in the creative process. Scholars argue that current curriculum standards can still be met, if taught in a different way. (emphasis mine)

I would go even farther and say that, for the most part, “current curriculum standards” are crap and should be junked… but this is a good start.

The whole article is actually worth reading for some interesting information about current research into creativity and children.

However, for an even better perspective on the matter, go rewatch Ken Robinson’s classic 2006 TED talk on how school are killing creativity in children or his return to TED from earlier this year (not quite as good) on the learning revolution.

Or read some of what Mitch Resnick has written on the subject of how children learn, especially Sowing the Seeds for a More Creative Society (pdf).

*I can’t tell you if it was the cover story since I haven’t seen a paper copy of the magazine in years.