Creativity among American children is declining. Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman for Newsweek report on the consequences, and what to do about it:
Preschool children, on average, ask their parents about 100 questions a day. Why, why, why—sometimes parents just wish it’d stop. Tragically, it does stop. By middle school they’ve pretty much stopped asking. It’s no coincidence that this same time is when student motivation and engagement plummet. They didn’t stop asking questions because they lost interest: it’s the other way around. They lost interest because they stopped asking questions.
IQ—one’s intelligence quotient—is not the same as CQ—one’s creativity quotient. Researchers have found that CQ among American school children stalled and began to decline starting in 1990. Bronson and Merryman:
The potential consequences are sweeping. The necessity of human ingenuity is undisputed. A recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 “leadership competency” of the future. Yet it’s not just about sustaining our nation’s economic growth. All around us are matters of national and international importance that are crying out for creative solutions, from saving the Gulf of Mexico to bringing peace to Afghanistan to delivering health care. Such solutions emerge from a healthy marketplace of ideas, sustained by a populace constantly contributing original ideas and receptive to the ideas of others.
Researchers say the solution is in developing divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).