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THE DECLINE OF CREATIVITY

November 6, 2010

Yesterday, driving home from yet another eye appointment, I was listening to MPR Midmorning Show with Kerri Miller.  Guests were Po Bronson and Shelly Carson discussing the lack of teaching of creativity in schools. The experts gathered in the studio and contributing callers via phone once again reinforced a position I have been studying and following for the past few years.  Brain and learning research over the last twenty years has changed how we should be thinking about education of our children.  Creativity  quotients (think innovation) have been decreasing in public schools since sometime in the late 1950s and we continue to rest on our laurels of American successes gained during the first 2/3 of the 20th century – with minimal progress since.

Right Brain/Left Brain theories are out the window.  One can be taught creativity and innovation if the focus of education includes problem-solving, not just high scores on tests.  This is not a movement led by a single person trying to revolutionize the world to his way of thinking.  This is 20 years of amassed facts by a growing body of experts with not only research but case studies to back up their theories.

Just last week, I was enjoying breakfast at the Nicollet Island Inn and overheard (and I confess, then eves-dropped) on a conversation at the next table.  Two gentlemen were discussing break-throughs in bringing design method of learning to K-12; teaching collaboration, socialized learning, and patterning learning found in Design Schools such as the School of Architecture with good results – as they explored how they could work together to bring these results into the forefront in the Minneapolis community. 

And yet, the public discourse on the topic remains tightly held in the hands of politicians wrestling with teachers, administration, parents and the teachers unions over old-school methods , using historical 20th century results  and disproven truths to support why they are RIGHT in their antiquated thinking.  

Surely, education experts focusing on what we know today about learning and innovation should get their chance on the stage soon – but I am not optimistic.  We are so caught up in preserving the 20th century “America Rules” mentality that we cannot open our minds to how we can move forward –despite all signals pointing to the wave of American world dominance is over.

As for me, unfortunately, since I was driving and somewhat distracted by my eye issues, I do not recall all the details of the MPR discussion…so two new books are added to my “Must Read” list – Carson’s “The Creative Brain” and Bronson’s “NutureShock: New Thinking about Children”. 

 So like it or not, expect to hear more on this topic in the future!

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