Eureka! Throw me a towel. I can’t believe nobody’s thought of this before. I can’t be the first one to consider this tactic as the be all, end all, last straw to all that is stupid about creationism.
I think we should redefine creationist so it doesn’t mean the one who believes in a creator, but the one who creates in the first place.
Wouldn’t that be the best fucking joke around? Anyone would be proud to call themselves creationists if they truly brought something new to the world with their own hearts and minds and hands.
I’m a creationist; I created this work of art. I created this poem, this song, this piece of literature. I’m a creationist; I created this computer program that will revolutionize the way medicines are measured for proper dosage. I created a better way to carve a mango by making a special mango knife. I used my brain in a constructive way and created a unique answer to the problem I had in front of me. I believe in creationism as a movement because through it, the world is improved with innovations and those dreams that really can come true.
That’s a creationism to be proud of and fully support as a life ambition, wouldn’t you say? It would make the art of creation sound smart again, too, and make it worthwhile to teach kids how to better develop that ability.
Which brings me to this Newsweek article that I found to be pretty damned fascinating. I’d taken early education courses when I thought I wanted to be a teacher for a living but never ran across E. Paul Torrance. Maybe he would have come up in later courses but I transferred out after year two once it was apparent I wasn’t cut out for the work involved. I’ve still maintained something of an interest in the teaching of kids, though, something Torrance was quite focused on as well.
What he did was create a scale to measure creativity and use it to later track the quality of employment and successes of the kids who’d taken these eponymous tests. The creativity tests results turned out to be a surprisingly accurate prediction of how well the kids would do later in life.
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.
IQ is often a useless measurement because the tests have been known to be culturally biased and not every person works well under a time limit, anyway. When it comes to spatial testing, for example, I know I’d need more than a couple minutes looking at a pattern before I’d feel confident I figured out what it would fold into based on the choices provided. Math is the same way for me. I don’t suck at math; I’m just not quick at solving the problems (word problems especially).
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.
Teachers want to complain about the curriculum and cry over how they don’t have time to teach art. But here’s the thing – it’s not about art or music specifically. What kids really need to learn is how to creatively solve problems in all areas of their education. They need to be learning how to take what they already know and find ways to apply that knowledge to new experiences and challenges within one course and across disciplines. That can be done with every part of the curriculum if the teachers themselves are clever enough to figure out how do it effectively and still stay within the “need to learn” guidelines.
other countries are making creativity development a national priority. In 2008 British secondary-school curricula—from science to foreign language—was revamped to emphasize idea generation, and pilot programs have begun using Torrance’s test to assess their progress. The European Union designated 2009 as the European Year of Creativity and Innovation, holding conferences on the neuroscience of creativity, financing teacher training, and instituting problem-based learning programs—curricula driven by real-world inquiry—for both children and adults.
I don’t know how well Canada is doing when it comes to this. Maybe we’re just as bad off as the States but I’m kind of hoping that’s not the case. There’s some more neuroscience evidence and school example stuff in the article worth reading, but I want to put this part in.
When creative children have a supportive teacher—someone tolerant of unconventional answers, occasional disruptions, or detours of curiosity—they tend to excel. When they don’t, they tend to underperform and drop out of high school or don’t finish college at high rates.
They’re quitting because they’re discouraged and bored, not because they’re dark, depressed, anxious, or neurotic.
I’m sure this was my cousin’s problem. He was so amazing in terms of inventiveness. The stuff he could design, the things he built, he should have had his choice of futures wide open. Instead, he barely passed many of his classes and never really had the encouragement and motivation to pursue any of his creative interests beyond grade 12. He’s said since that it’s one of his biggest regrets. But I know he still has time to get into something worthwhile should he want to put in the effort and risk it. Learning doesn’t stop just because school is out.
Encourage creativeness. Encourage your kids to be real creationists. Help them build their brains into the best creative engines possible and let them go. Let them create. Let them make and modify and invent. Let them have every opportunity to try, let them have every opportunity to fail and help them realize they can learn from their mistakes, too, and try again.