make art. transform life.

thoughts about creativity and  art:   live your life as your work of art.

Is America throwing out ingenuity?

"I've actually witnessed this", I  exclaimed, as my personal  findings were supported by an article discovered through Thomas Cott's newsletter, "You've Cott Mail"!

"Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found 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.”  The Creativity Crisis, Newsweek. July 10,

This is exactly what I have noticed over a decade of teaching art and speaking with many about creativity!  The effort to think outside the box is not something that many people generally aspire to these days. I have been deeply concerned as an artist, art educator and citizen. I know that innovation and looking at events, people and problems  from different points of view is essential, as much today as it was when our country was founded. As Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman state in this same article,

"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 video games 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."

I was also incredulous that some researchers then suggest that creativity should be taken out of the art room.  You have got to be kidding. The art classroom is or has  the potential to model creative thinking strategies for both students, teachers and administrators. Yes, the educational system absolutely needs to encourage creative habits as an integral part of the teaching process.

In addition, I wonder if we could use a few of our creative thinking skills to initiate solving this problem: America is losing its edge in innovation. Thomas Friedman acknowledged this in his latest Op-Ed piece, when he said,

It is also everything we should be celebrating and preserving but lately have not: ... educational excellence, a culture of innovation and a financial system designed to promote creative destruction..."

Thinking creatively means

  • sharpening our observation skills
  • learning hoe to imagine,
  • taking ideas to essential, simplest form,
  • finding and creating patterns
  • making analogies
  • body thinking
  • feeling empathy
  • thinking in dimensions
  • modeling or imitating behaviour
  • playing
  • transforming
  • synthesizing

from Michelle and Robert Root-Bernstein's book "Sparks of Genius".

Now, what can you do personally to increase the collective creative and innovative "IQ" of America?

I would love to get some ideas from you so I can try new things myself  and share them here.

This week I will be focusing on observing (visiting new places), modeling(drawing), playing, and of course, my all time favorite, transforming(mistakes into opportunities)! I will share what I have learned in words and paintings ensuing posts.

What about you?  Come on, be courageous,pick one thinking skill and try it!  [tweetmeme source="bethvw"only_single=false]