Friday, May 25, 2012

Killing Creativity

As the U.S. plows, obliviously, towards more standardized testing, standardized curriculum, and one size fits all lunacy in our schools, the rest of the world is reengineering their schools to be creative, collaborative, project based institutions. One hopes that American education leaders soon wake up and see that we must change course quickly in regards to the focus of our schools. As India and China join the modern world and make it more competitive than it has ever been, it is vitally important that our young people are trained to think in terms of creativity and innovation and collaboration - rather than being trained to regurgitate disconnected facts and ephemera.

Their is a better model for our schools, Finland is pioneering it, and the rest of the world, unburdened by the through the looking glass dissonance of no child left behind, are following Finland's lead. 

"creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,” Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is “most serious.”

It’s too early to determine conclusively why U.S. creativity scores are declining. 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.

Around the world, though, other countries are making creativity development a national priority. In 2008 British secondary-school curricula—from science to foreign language—was revamped to emphasize idea generation, and pilot programs have begun using Torrance’s test to assess their progress. The European Union designated 2009 as the European Year of Creativity and Innovation, holding conferences on the neuroscience of creativity, financing teacher training, and instituting problem-based learning programs—curricula driven by real-world inquiry—for both children and adults. In China there has been widespread education reform to extinguish the drill-and-kill teaching style. Instead, Chinese schools are also adopting a problem-based learning approach.

Plucker recently toured a number of such schools in Shanghai and Beijing. He was amazed by a boy who, for a class science project, rigged a tracking device for his moped with parts from a cell phone. When faculty of a major Chinese university asked Plucker to identify trends in American education, he described our focus on standardized curriculum, rote memorization, and nationalized testing. “After my answer was translated, they just started laughing out loud,” Plucker says. “They said, ‘You’re racing toward our old model. But we’re racing toward your model, as fast as we can.’ ”

Read more:     The Creativity Crisis     Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman     
Read more:     Finland as a Model for U.S. Education
Video:      Schools are Killing Creativity     Sir Ken Robinson's TED Lecture