Newsweek’s article on the “creativity crisis” has been making the rounds lately. It fits the usual template of such stories: extrapolation of a trend leads to prognostications of vague gloom. In this case, it’s that US kids’ Creativity Quotient scores have been falling since the 1990s.
The article is talking about a specific flavor of creativity, namely the ability to generate a lot of ideas, pick out and combine the most promising ones, and then follow through on them. The article contrasts problem-solving-based education that can foster this kind of thinking with US schools’ focus on rote memorization and test taking, and does a good job of citing research into creativity.
The article is less persuasive when it trots out the usual bogeymen of TV and videogames. The best videogames, and games in general, give you a set of rules and invite you to then solve the problems creatively, the kind of creative problem-solving that the article calls for in schools. And as fanfic and other transformative works show, people will watch TV and incorporate their stories into their own. The article approvingly notes that creative kids often make their own alternate worlds to play in. Can you get the same benefit from in part populating your alternate worlds with elements borrowed from TV shows? After all, most kids at that age are synthesists, creating those worlds from pieces of whatever stories they’ve heard, whether those stories came from books or TV or their family.
Programs exist to foster creative problem-solving, including Dr. Torrance’s Future Problem Solving Program. I’ll be interested to see if Eli and Liza’s schools offer such programs. But at least for now, I’m not that worried about them.