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We should be teaching creativity, not standardization.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:02 pm
The Creativity Crisis
Back in 1958, Ted Schwarzrock was an 8-year-old third grader when he became one of the "Torrance kids," a group of nearly 400 Minneapolis children who completed a series of creativity tasks newly designed by professor E. Paul Torrance. Schwarzrock still vividly remembers the moment when a psychologist handed him a fire truck and asked, "How could you improve this toy to make it better and more fun to play with?" He recalls the psychologist being excited by his answers. In fact, the psychologist's session notes indicate Schwarzrock rattled off 25 improvements, such as adding a removable ladder and springs to the wheels. That wasn't the only time he impressed the scholars, who judged Schwarzrock to have "unusual visual perspective" and "an ability to synthesize diverse elements into meaningful products."

The accepted definition of creativity is production of something original and useful, and that's what's reflected in the tests. There is never one right answer. To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).

In the 50 years since Schwarzrock and the others took their tests, scholars—first led by Torrance, now his colleague, Garnet Millar—have been tracking the children, recording every patent earned, every business founded, every research paper published, and every grant awarded. They tallied the books, dances, radio shows, art exhibitions, software programs, advertising campaigns, hardware innovations, music compositions, public policies (written or implemented), leadership positions, invited lectures, and buildings designed.

Nobody would argue that Torrance's tasks, which have become the gold standard in creativity assessment, measure creativity perfectly. What's shocking is how incredibly well Torrance's creativity index predicted those kids' creative accomplishments as adults. Those who came up with more good ideas on Torrance's tasks grew up to be entrepreneurs, inventors, college presidents, authors, doctors, diplomats, and software developers. Jonathan Plucker of Indiana University recently reanalyzed Torrance's data. The correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ.

Like intelligence tests, Torrance's test—a 90-minute series of discrete tasks, administered by a psychologist—has been taken by millions worldwide in 50 languages. Yet there is one crucial difference between IQ and CQ scores. With intelligence, there is a phenomenon called the Flynn effect—each generation, scores go up about 10 points. Enriched environments are making kids smarter. With creativity, a reverse trend has just been identified and is being reported for the first time here: American creativity scores are falling.

Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. "It's very clear, and the decrease is very significant," Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America - from kindergarten through sixth grade - for whom the decline is "most serious."

This is a rather long article (or at least longer than what I usually post), but worth the read, and illustrates just how misguided the current approach to teaching is (as exemplified by No Child Left Behind and the obsession with standardized testing).  
PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:55 am
“Don't cry because it's over."

I'm not a fan of standardized testing, and neither is my wife (she has an M Ed.) Last week we got our kiddo's Iowa scores, and while they weren't totally off the mark, they misreported some info by not taking her personality into consideration. (for example, she doesn't read instructions thoroughly, especially if there are multiple tasks listed. That doesn't mean she can't do the work, it means she needs to read directions better, which is probably not going to happen when stressed by a timed test.) Standardized testing has a place, I believe, but so does individualized testing, and I'm not happy that standardized test scores are so heavily relied upon.

"Smile because it happened.”
Dr. Seuss


Clever Werewolf


PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 3:41 am
*start rant*
I dislike how our schools have abandon creativity in its entirety. I have watched countless schools cut art, music, and other enrichment classes in favor of standardized education and testing. I came from a school where the band program, which I was very proud to be a part of, was one of the top programs in the country. They won nationals every other year along with many other prestigious awards. That program had absolutely no school funding. neither did the art program, the choir program, or the drama department. i fondly remember having to do some retarded amount of fund-raising just so we could afford some basic amenities like beginner instruments for freshmen. I have since graduated from that school but my little sister is still moving up through the system. the music program has been cut. My little sister who is incredibly talented in music will never have the chance to be in a band because our school opted for standardization. I would tell her to join a community group but our standardized school requires her to do so much homework that she has no time for anything else. literally she comes home after a full day of school and she has 5 or 6 hours worth of homework to do.
*end rant*

sorry, its hard to see my line of work literally dissolving beneath me, I'm a music teacher.  
Gathering of Adult Friends

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