No creativity, no progress.

We compare our math and reading scores with other nations regularly. There are frequent reports of our low rank in math and reading skills when compared to those of other countries. In response, our curriculums have changed to include a lot more math and science. Each year I notice that math and science curriculums have more advanced topics. What my high school sophomore learned in biology ten years ago is now taught at the eighth grade level. In math, topics like standard deviation, which used to be taught in college is now taught to sixth graders. While this is great news, an important component is on the decline; I would say, almost non-existent in our curriculums: creativity. Not only is creativity absent from their lessons, the related work expected on the wide and advanced array of topics, they are left with no opportunity for creativity. Every week they must engage in rote learning of the data and regurgitate it in the tests and quizzes.

We are facing a creativity crisis according to an article in Newsweek[1]. America progressed because of the creativity of our forefathers. To survive the wilderness and establish their lives, they had to be inventive. Their creativity was crucial to America’s economic progress. The same is true, of course, about creativity in general. However, with children being robbed of the opportunities to be creative, we might incur a huge cost in future progress.

What is creativity? It’s not necessarily art and sculpture. It is inventing ways to improve lives, societies, etc.

Hung up on getting into brand-name schools, our children, naturally, go after the most number of AP courses, scoring perfect scores on standardized tests, and claiming ‘leadership’ positions in fictitious clubs (or clubs that exist in name only, clubs that were created for the purpose of embellishing their college resumes. In the process, they are also robbed of creativity. Schools need to emphasize the need for creativity in order to prepare them for competitive colleges.

What can be done?

Forego the last few chapters of your curriculum. Instead use some of the “Critical Thinking’ problems in those math/science books. That’s one way to find projects of creativity. Another is to simply take everyday objects and ask students to improve them. Creativity need not be only in objects. It could be in coming up with creative solutions for society’s problems, like poverty, homelessness, drug crisis.