Category Archives: Research

Creativity Crisis 2017

 

Dr. Kim’s 2017 research on the creativity crisis is presented as a think piece for you, to help prep for World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21.

Join me in spreading the creative spirit, knowledge about it,  opportunities for it, and ways to use it to help create a decent life for all on a sustainable planet. WCID2018.

New ideas, new decisions, new actions, new outcomes to make the world a better place and to make your place in the world better too.

Here’s the Research
The Creativity Crisis: It’s Getting Worse

Children are born to be creative, like eagles are born to soar, see the world, and find food, not scratch and fight for scraps in a coop. Instead of competing against each other on memorization tests, when children utilize their creativity to its full potential, creativity can contribute to healthy lives and future careers.

How High-Stakes Testing Has Caused Exam Hell in Asia

High-stakes testing has shaped the main Asian cultural values: 1) filial piety (e.g., to be a good son or daughter by achieving high scores), 2) social conformity (e.g., to think and act like others); and 3) social hierarchy (e.g., to obey the authority). High-stakes testing has made millions of young men focus on preparing for tests, instead of challenging the social hierarchy. It has resulted in exam hell, the excessive rote memorization, and private tutoring, starting in early childhood, to achieve high scores among students in Asia. This situation has fostered social conformity and structural inequalities. It has cost Asians their individuality and creativity.

How High-Stakes Testing Has Caused The Creativity Crisis in the U.S.

During the 1990s, American politicians, fearing the educational and economic success of Asia, began to focus on test-taking skills to emulate Asian success. Today, high-stakes testing costs American taxpayers tens of billions of dollars each year, but the real cost is much higher

Highly-selective university and graduate school admission procedures rely on high-stakes tests such as the ACT and the SAT. Testing companies and test-preparation companies have reaped enormous financial benefits and lobby Congres heavily for more testing. However, because students’ scores are highly correlated with both students’ family income and spending on test preparations, high-stakes testing has solidified structural inequalities and socioeconomic barriers for low-income families.

American Education Before and After the 1990s

Creativity is making something unique and useful and often produces innovation. Prior to the 1990s, American education cultivated, inspired, and encouraged. However, since the 1990s:

  • Losing curiosities and passions. Because of the incentives or sanctions on schools and teachers based on students’ test scores, schools have turned to rote lecturing to teach all tested material and spent time teaching specific test-taking skills. Students memorize information without opportunities for application. This approach stifles natural curiosities, the joy of learning, and exploring topics that might lead to their passions.
  • Narrowing visions. Making test scores as the measure of success fosters students’ competition and narrows their goals, such as getting rich, while decreasing their empathy and compassion for those in need. However, the greatest innovators in history were inspired by big visions such as changing the world. Their big visions helped their minds transcend the concrete constraints or limitations and recognize patterns or relationships among the unrelated.

Prior to the 1990s, many schools had high expectations and offered many challenges. However, since the 1990s:

  • Lowering expectations. Schools focus on students whose scores are just below passing score and ignore high-achieving students.
  • Avoiding risk-taking. High-stakes testing teaches students to avoid taking risks for fear of being wrong. The willingness to accept failure is essential for creativity.
  • Prior to the 1990s, educators sought to provide students with diverse experiences and views. However, since the 1990s:
  • Avoiding collaboration. Because teachers have been compelled to depend on rote lecturing, students have few opportunities for group work or discussions to learn and collaborate with others.
  • Narrowing minds. Schools have decreased or eliminated instruction time on non-tested subjects such as social studies, science, physical education, arts, and foreign languages. This contraction not only narrows students’ minds but gives them few opportunities for finding or expressing their individuality and cross-pollination across different subjects or fields. Low-income area schools, especially, have decreased time on non-tested subjects to spend more time on test preparations.

Prior to the 1990s, schools provided children with the freedom to think alone and differently. However, since the 1990s:

  • Losing imagination and deep thought. Test-centric education has reduced children’s playtime, which stifles imagination. With pressure to cover large amounts of tested material, teachers overfeed students with information, leaving students little time to think or explore concepts in depth.
  • Fostering conformity. American education has increasingly fostered conformity, clipping eagles’ wings of individuality (All schools preparing students for the same tests and all students taking the same tests). It has stifled uniqueness and originality in both educators and students. Wing-clipped eagles cannot do what they were born to do – fly; individuality-clipped children cannot do what they were born to do – fulfill their creative potential.
  • Fostering hierarchy. Students’ low scores are often due to structural inequalities, which start in early childhood (e.g., the number of words exposed to by age 3), affecting their later academic achievement. Yet, high-stakes testing has determined the deservingness and un-deservingness of passers or failers. The claim of “meritocracy” has disguised the structural inequalities by conditioning disadvantaged students to blame themselves for their lack of effort.
Results of The 2017 Creativity Crisis Study

In “The Creativity Crisis (2011)” I reported that American creativity declined from the 1990s to 2008. Since 2008, my research reveals that the Creativity Crisis has grown worse. In addition, the results also reveal that the youngest age groups (5 and 6-year-olds) suffered the greatest.

The significant declines in outbox thinking skills (fluid and original thinking) indicate that Americans generate not only fewer ideas or solutions to open-ended questions or challenges, but also fewer unusual or unique ideas than those in preceding decades (Figure 1).

The significant declines in new box thinking skills (elaboration and simplicity) indicate that Americans think less in depth, with less focus, and they think less critically and in more black-and-white terms than those in preceding decades (Figure 2).
The significant decline in open-mindedness (creative attitude) indicates that Americans are less open to new experiences and different people, ideas, and views than those in preceding decades (Figure 3).

The greatest declines in creativity among the youngest age groups suggest that the younger children are, the more they are harmed by American test-centric education.

Similarities between American high-stakes testing and Asian exam hell have appeared. Increasingly, fewer American innovators will emerge. The longer test-centric education continues, the fewer will remember or know that eagles can fly, and the more we will see creativity and innovation decline. America must not abandon its traditional way of raising eagles. Eagles that soar high will see the whole big world, and children who maximize their potential will become world’s greatest innovators. The world has improved from breakthroughs made by eagles, not by wing-clipped chicks.

Dr. Kim is Professor of Creativity and Innovation at the College of William & Mary (kkim@wm.edu or Tweet @Kreativity_Kim). https://www.ideatovalue.com/crea/khkim/2017/04/creativity-crisis-getting-worse/

Creative Problem Solving – a skill needed for the Future: Adobe Study

In preparation for World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21, take a look at this infographic revealing research by Adobe. It shows the importance of Creative Problem Solving – of using new thinking to approach and solve challenges to make the world a better place and to make your place in the world better too.
Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 6.34.20 PMScreen Shot 2018-01-26 at 6.35.00 PM

You can see the regional difference insights here.

What are three things you can do, or three people you can talk to about this  – to use creative problem-solving day-to-day?  It’s important.

Read Journal of Creative Behavior 50th Anniversary Issue for Free

Cory Wright sent this along:

Take rare privilege to read 50th Anniversary issue of oldest longest standing journal devoted to creativity research.

What a great way to get ready for World Creativity and Innovation Day April 21 this year, the first year the UN is celebrating it with you!

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jocb.2017.51.issue-4/issuetoc

Thanks Cory!

New Ideas Need a Soft Place To Land

You can quote me on this. I’ve been using the phrase and the idea behind it for years to explain that people feel more comfortable contributing new thinking, knowing their ideas will be well received; that psychological safety exists.

Softplace

Let’s face it, over 15,000 scientists worldwide agree we need to shift away from ‘business as usual’ toward a more environmentally sustainable way of acting, living. With that big ask, comes opportunities to use imagination, to free thinking to create new futures.

Environments with psychological safety give new ideas a soft place to land. Not necessarily adopted, as put into action, heard and considered.

Psychologically safe environments let people risk new ways of thinking and understanding challenges, and stretch beyond ‘normal’ to consider alternative methods, outcomes, and activities without feeling threatened, insecure or embarrassed.  In other words, out of the box thinking is welcomed; people walk the talk, they encourage using curiosity and exploration.

I recently read Inc magazine’s recently published article The Results of Google’s Team Effectiveness Research Will Make You Rethink How You Build Teams.  It cited the importance of psychological safety as a determinant of effective teams. Other qualities are dependability, structure and clarity, meaning, and impact.

What if, in the lead up to World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21, you planned to enable psychological safety in your environment?

Innovation is about people after all. New ideas need a soft place to land. See what you can do to be open and receptive to new thinking – yours and others’.

WCID founder Marci Segal outside the UN April 20, 2017. WCID founder Marci Segal outside the UN April 20, 2017.

Adobe State of Create Study 2016. More support for #wciw2017 Infographic and highlights

Feel free to use  Adobe’s State of Create 2016 Report findings to fuel your inspiration to celebrate and leverage World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15-21, 2017.

“With our 2016 State of Create study, we set out to quantify just how much impact creativity has and the results are impressive. Globally, respondents believe that being creative is valuable for society, and it fuels innovation, economic growth, and even happiness. Yet, only three in 10 people feel that they are living up to their creative potential.

So, the question is: why not? Why aren’t we prioritising creativity when we know it’s beneficial? The call to action for all of us is to simply take a step back and create. The bottom line is companies that encourage and empower employees to create are driving results and employees who think creatively are bound to succeed. And for students, it underscores a broader opportunity – not just what, but also how we prepare students for the real world — creativity helps businesses win.”

Mala Sharma, VP & GM of Creative Cloud Product, Marketing and Community, Adobe

Infographic

Report

Research is in! Creative Academic findings on WCIW

creativity_survey_results-20150610113443615Creative Academic magazine self-initiated a research project to investigate World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15-21, 2016 .

Invitations to participate appeared in our Facebook group, on our Facebook page, LinkedIn Group and on Twitter and each celebrant listed on our WCIW2016 page was contacted directly through email ask.

Read the results here WCIW_survey_final

The report includes

  • Events for WCIW 2016 categorized into 4 areas: workshops and talks in the workplace; public engagement activities; use of on-line media, and formal teaching
  • Prior year celebrations categories: repeating same activity as before; creating new activities each year
  • Ways people learn about WCIW: social media; through the workplace; from earlier involvement, and by chance
  • How WCIW is related to the respondent’s own area of work/interest: creative/innovation industry consultants; mission and teaching context
  • Why people chose to take part in WCIW 2016: to fill a gap and/or spread awareness; thought it was valuable; its marketing value; it is easy to get access to, and, why not?
  • Important outcomes from taking part in WCIW 2016: Spreading awareness; positive client feedback; creating a sense of community; personal satisfaction, and a concrete outcome
  • Other comments including suggestions and wishes for the future of WCIW.

Read the survey report here WCIW_survey_final

Please join me in sharing appreciative thanks to  Dr. Jenny Willis, executive editor of the Creative Academic for her efforts to provide these important, helpful and practical insights.  We will be leveraging the findings as preparations for WCIW 2017 begin.

Have you saved the dates in your calendar yet?  April 15-21, 2017  World Creativity and Innovation Week #16.

Coming this year – an additional focus:  celebrating your own ideas. More to come…

What does Creativity Look Like in Different Cultures?

Overlaps of creativity beliefs that exist in different cultures are explored in this easy-to-read research paper.

World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 – 21 is open to all. Remember to add April 15-21, World Creativity and Innovation Week to your planning calendar for 2017.