Are we all born creative?
The deputy director of NASA came to Dr George Land in need of a test that could find the most creative people on the NASA team for an upcoming project. The test was so successful at picking out creative people that the team became curious as to where creativity begins! Are some born more creative than others? Is creativity something we learn? Dr Land decided to conduct the same test on 4-5 year olds that represented the US population. 1600 kids were tested and shockingly, they discovered that 98% of the kids operated at a genius creative level. The test was so shocking that they decided to check back in every 5 years. At 10 years old (grade 5) that genius level dropped to staggering 30% with the same group. At 15 years old (10th grade) it dropped to just 12%.. the study proved we are all born equally creative, but our education system is responsible for slowly killing that creativity.
So what’s the solution? How can we get back to our 5 year old creativity? There are 2 types of thinking: divergent, which controls imagination & new ideas. The other is convergent which controls judgement, criticism, or evaluation - making a decision. In school we try to teach both at the same time. We ask kids to think of new ideas and then start assessing them right away. But when both neurons are battling, the brain cannot focus it’s power on creativity. This is why time outside, away from “teaching” is critical in brain development. The more time we have to play, to explore, to communicate, and to experience the world & environment around us, the more our neurons are operating in creativity. As recess dies, so too does creativity..
We have become infatuated with testing & measurements & statistics. We call a school successful if kids get good grades. We don’t reward schools for producing Einstein’s or Tesla’s. We reward schools for producing high test scores or college admissions. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become a professional in something. 14,000 hours are spent in the K-12 system yet 65% of kids go to college for more schooling. Why is that? Why are so many brilliant kids going to school instead of already integrating into society doing what they love? Our children are being forced to learn material they don’t enjoy. It’s a death wish for creativity. Basic skills can be taught in a few months yet we spend decades on the same core subjects. What we should do is individualize education and explore infinite possibilities in our communities and world with our youth. Help them find out what they enjoy and what they are good at very early on. Once we identify that, we should help them wisely invest 10,000 hours into that subject and teach them only the necessary information they need to thrive in that endeavor.
My roommate is a prime example. He has over 18,000,000 followers on social media, has built a enterprise worth millions, all without a college degree & HE DOESN’T READ. He can read, but he doesn’t. It’s important to learn basic skills but to force our children to read books or consume content they don’t choose, again, is a death wish for creativity.