Ever since the 1950s, children have undergone a test for tracking their creativity, in similar fashion to the IQ test. Professor E. Paul Torrance developed the series of tasks, which are administered by a psychologist, to a subject to measure the person’s ability to produce something original and useful. No task has a “right “ answer, because being creative requires someone to generate a variety of unique ideas and then combine them into the best result.
Again, like the IQ test, these Torrance test results have been tracked and analyzed ever since their inception. Every generation, IQ scores have gone up – this is not surprising, given the advancement in the availability of information, instantly and at our fingertips. As this has advanced, so has our societal intelligence. However, the creativity scores had also been going up in the same way as their IQ equivalents until the 1990s, upon which these scores have consistently dropped in American children.
This is a serious problem – creativity defines our ability to be successful in the workplace, and is the only factor to differentiate ourselves from robots. How can we solve world problems? How can we keep up with the constant changes? Creativity wins. So right now, our children are losing.
Instead of rising to meet the challenges of the day, our outdated and bureaucratic school systems are busy “teaching to the test.” Instead of “No Child Left Behind”, they are all being left behind and are ill-prepared to succeed in the new era of business…and life.
Today, we live in a world of dizzying speed, exponential complexity, and ruthless competition. We can no longer rely on the models of the past in order to win. Today, we need an entirely new approach. Unfortunately, the rigid and formulaic educational system is robbing the next generation of their competitive edge.
So what can we do about it? Most of the problem lives in the system, not in the passionate teachers who desperately want to develop hungry minds. In fact, we should honor and celebrate teachers, as there isn’t a more noble profession. Even within the stifling factory system, teachers can break free and liberate the minds of their pupils. These concepts are top priority, and can be embraced immediately:
1. Teach creative problem solving over rote memorization. How to reach an answer is far more important than making the right choice on a standardized test and then forgetting the concept the next day.
2. Teach kids to challenge assumptions instead of accepting things “as is.” Success is no longer about following an operating manual. It is about imagining the possibilities and real-time innovation.
3. Teach that mistakes are not evil, and should not be feared.Make sure kids learn that mistakes aren’t fatal – they’re simply the portals of discovery.
4. Drive diversity of thought over conformity. World progress occurs by challenging conventional wisdom and approaching problems with fresh perspective. Following the herd is a surefire path to mediocrity.
5. Foster imagination and curiosity. No longer optional, creativity has become the currency of success for us all. This applies to CEO’s and soccer-moms. Musicians and military leaders. Engineers and educators.
Developing the Creative Class mindset will allow kids to win in the future instead of falling victim to a broken system. If we don’t make the philosophical shift to teach critical thinking instead of rule-following memorization, our very status as an economic superpower will soon be in jeopardy.
While we’re at it, why stop with kids? Funny enough, these are the same principles needed for any organization to thrive. Let’s learn from the deficit facing our children. It’s time to empower our teams, colleagues and ourselves with the same mission-critical ingredients for success.
In the words of Charles Barkley, “Anything less would be uncivilized.”
Article by Josh Linkner
Original article on Forbes
Kristen Rencher, Social Media and Online Community Engagement Coordinator. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)