Creativity Crisis Mystery

In CategoryHome Schooling, Navel Gazing
ByDeb

Newsweek recently ran an interesting article titled The Creativity Crisis, which talked about how even though the intelligence of children in the United States is rising, their creativity is diminishing. This leads to difficulty with problem solving and thinking outside the box, and will eventually effect their/our ability to compete in a global marketplace.

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. 

Declining student motivation…Maybe if we look at the environment our kids are in for 8 hours a day, we can find the trouble. What is it like to be a student?

Every day you are told where to sit, when to sit, when you can get up, where you have to go, when you can talk, when you can use the bathroom, when you can eat, when you can drink, when you have to arrive, when you will be allowed to depart… 

what you can learn, in what grade and semester you must learn it, how much time you can spend studying it and at what specific times of the day; that you should learn to at least feign interest in any given subject, and develop the ability to switch your interest and attention to an entirely different subject every hour on the hour… 

that real interest in a topic must be carefully controlled – a limited amount of enthusiasm is praised, but straying too far from the designated material is not acceptable; that doing well on tests is somehow a measure of something valuable and therefore you must learn to regurgitate the previously-decided-as-important information on command; that you must subjugate your personal beliefs and values to please the person who stands in judgment of your work… 

and when you get home, your time is still not your own, because you have amounts of homework that a working adult would resent; and that maybe, after all this Deemed to be Important work is done, if you have time, you can read or play or daydream or cuddle with your daddy or have a job or do nothing… 

that the road to success is sitting down, shutting up, doing what you are told, memorizing the answers and not asking too many questions – all the while navigating a complicated social environment unlike any other you will likely experience again, even as an adult (unless you end up in prison)… 

Yeah. It’s a big freaking mystery.

School is about learning to wait your turn, however long it takes to come, if ever. And how to submit with a show of enthusiasm to the judgment of strangers, even if they are wrong, even if your enthusiasm is phony.

John Taylor Gatto