When the “Believe in Bay View” community said they wanted to make Bay View High School a school of “Innovation and Creativity,” they recognized that those qualities–innovation and creativity–were critical to success in adult life. It doesn’t matter if you’re in business or service or even the military, employers are looking for you to have the ability to think for yourself and solve problems creatively. That’s why professionals are saying that a business’s success or failure “may depend on it.”
But there’s also a potential “crisis” in American creativity, according to Newsweek in 2010. Researchers who study creativity in children (studies that have “incredibly well … predicted those kids’ creative accomplishments as adults”) have noted a definite decline in creativity:
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.”
Now, you and I both know that anyone can take a “trend” and get all alarmist about it. But the researchers here are careful to control for other factors (you can read more Kim’s original research here and here).
Why is creativity flagging? Newsweek suggests the obvious culprits–TV, video games. But they also note that American schools have squeezed creative thinking out of the classroom:
Overwhelmed by curriculum standards, American teachers warn there’s no room in the day for a creativity class. Kids are fortunate if they get an art class once or twice a week. But to scientists, this is a non sequitur, borne out of what University of Georgia’s Mark Runco calls “art bias.” The age-old belief that the arts have a special claim to creativity is unfounded. When scholars gave creativity tasks to both engineering majors and music majors, their scores laid down on an identical spectrum, with the same high averages and standard deviations. Inside their brains, the same thing was happening—ideas were being generated and evaluated on the fly.
Researchers say creativity should be taken out of the art room and put into homeroom. The argument that we can’t teach creativity because kids already have too much to learn is a false trade-off. Creativity isn’t about freedom from concrete facts. Rather, fact-finding and deep research are vital stages in the creative process. Scholars argue that current curriculum standards can still be met, if taught in a different way.
This is exactly what Bay View’s coming “innovation and creativity” curriculum will be about. We believe that students can learn content and meet standards by using their innate sense of creativity and problem-solving. Even if those skills haven’t been nurtured, research tells us that students can still practice creativity and learn how to be innovative.
Further, researcher Kyung Hee Kim believes that giving students the chance to be creative may capture students who would otherwise drop out of school:
“If we neglect creative students in school because of the structure and the testing movement—creative students cannot breathe, they are suffocated in school—then they become underachievers,” said Kim.
Kim, who also studies school drop-outs, added that she has found that creative people can be either overachievers—if their needs are met in the classroom and at home—or underachievers. Kim said that for creative students, the odds of dropping out increases by 52 percent if they are in the wrong school environment.
“Among underachieving students, there is a strong relationship between behavior problems and creativity,” she said. “The more creative you are, the more behavior problems because of their creative personality.”
At Bay View, those “underachievers” will have the chance to shine, just as well as the overachievers. Creativity and innovation will be universal at Bay View High School!