American kids in ‘creativity crisis’

For the first time American children’s scores are going down on creativity scales, Newsweek reports.

How do we know this is happening? The ‘gold standard’ of creativity is measured by a series of tests created in the 50s by psychologist E. Paul Torrance. The tests study ‘divergent thinking’ which means coming up with varied solutions to questions like ‘how many ways can you use a spoon?’

Newsweek reports: “Those who came up with more good ideas on Torrance’s tasks grew up to be entrepreneurs, inventors, college presidents, authors, doctors, diplomats, and software developers.”

But recently, Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary analyzed almost 300,000 ‘Torrance scores’ of children and adults, discovering that for the first time, creativity in American kids is declining. Kim is quoted in Newsweek: “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant…the scores of younger children in America-from kindergarten through sixth grade-for whom the decline is “most serious.”

Why is this downturn happening?

Newsweek reports it’s too early to tell but that “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.”

Peggy Orenstein supports that theory in her new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter. Orenstein writes that right at the stage when our kids’ brains should be growing by engaging in fantasy play and having varied experiences, instead children are thrust into a monochromatic world, relentlessly bombarded by images and products from corporations like Disney. In her book, Orenstein interviews neuroscientists and educators, showing how the princess culture could be affecting brain development.

In a Mother Jones interview, Orenstein says she was surprised to discover that one of her biggest jobs as a parent was protecting her daughter’s imagination, trying to make sure it isn’t “colonized by these prescribed scripts.”

Yet another good reason to let your daughters skip the ball.

3 thoughts on “American kids in ‘creativity crisis’

  1. I’m so happy Peggy Orenstein is analyzing the princess culture. Her NY Times article was the first time I saw in print all my doubts and concerns about the Disney Princess phenomenon.

  2. I know that kids read more in the past, and their parents had the time to sit with them and do so if they were too young to do it themselves. When one acquires words, one acquires ideas.

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