Are Today’s Youth Less Creative & Imaginative?


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Are Today’s Youth Less Creative & Imaginative?

In a 2010 study ofِ aboutِ 300,000 creativity tests goingِ backِ to theِ 1970s, Kyung Hee Kim, a creativity researcher atِ the College ofِ William andِ Mary, foundِ creativity hasِ decreased among American children inِ recent years.
Since 1990, children haveِ becomeِ less able toِ produce unique andِ unusual ideas.
They areِ alsoِ less humorous, lessِ imaginative andِ less able toِ elaborate onِ ideas, Kim said.

Has modern society really extinguished the creative spark among our youth?

Experts sayِ creativity isِ innate, soِ itِ can’tِ really beِ lost.
It’s notِ that creativity canِ necessarily disappear, saidِ Ron Beghetto, anِ education psychologist atِ the University ofِ Oregon.
In fact, there’sِ evidence toِ suggest that, worldwide, youngsters areِ very creative, particularlyِ with theirِ use ofِ digital media, Beghetto said.

Experts agree changes can be made in the classroom to cultivate creativity.

No child gets ahead

In herِ study, Kim analyzed results fromِ the Torrance test, anِ exam thatِ measures anِ aspect ofِ creativity called divergent thinking.
Interestingly, scores onِ the Torrance test haveِ beenِ decreasing whileِ SAT scores areِ increasing.
However, betterِ test scores doِ not necessarly translate toِ improved creativity, Kim said.

Time to play

Kids alsoِ nurture theirِ creativity abilities whenِ theyِ pretend, saidِ Sandra Russ, a psychologist atِ Case Western University inِ Cleveland, Ohio, whoِ wasِ notِ involved inِ Kim’s study.
Elements ofِ insight, fantasy andِ emotional expression allِ go intoِ this type ofِ story-making, Russ said.

Nowadays, with kids’ overbooked schedules, there is less time for pretend play, Russ said.

Russ looked backِ atِ studies sheِ hasِ conducted onِ pretend play sinceِ 1985.
Stories wereِ rated based onِ howِ many ideas theِ kids cameِ up with, theِ novelty ofِ the ideas, andِ the emotions expressed withinِ theِ tales.
   Russ foundِ that, overِ time, imagination inِ the stories increased, withِ theِ stories inِ 1985 showing significantly lessِ imagination thanِ stories (created byِ different groups ofِ kids) inِ 2008.

Hide and seek

So howِ canِ we makeِ sure notِ to squelch kids’ creativity onceِ they step insideِ a classroom.
Beghetto saidِ the interaction betweenِ students andِ teachers hasِ becomeِ one ofِ intellectual hide andِ seek.
The students tryِ toِ match whatِ theyِ think theِ teacher wantsِ toِ hear.

If you can do that, you can be ‘successful’ in school, Beghetto said.

Teachers don’tِ spend a lot ofِ time exploring unexpected ideas becauseِ they mightِ not beِ sure whereِ itِ will lead, Beghetto said.
As a result, out-of-the-box thinking getsِ discouraged.

Beghetto is not blaming teachers, who may even feel as though they cannot teach creativity.

But teaching toِ prepare forِ tests andِ teaching toِ develop creativity areِ not mutually exclusive, Beghetto said.
Teachers shouldِ recognize thatِ unexpected answers mayِ still lead toِ meaningful conversation andِ learning inِ a classroom, heِ said.
And schools mayِ beِ able toِ implement tests thatِ assess students broadly andِ allowِ for moreِ creativity.

Follow staff writer Rachael Rettner on Twitter @RachaelRettner.