Who Killed Creativity? How Can We Get Creativity Back?

Are Asian Children More Creative?

Originally published on 2014 International Child Art Foundation Creativity and Innovation ed. Jan-March 2014

After traveling the world for 25 years exploring the development of creative thinking at all levels, we decided to interview children in Indonesia, where we had been based for 13 years. We approached our children’s school armed simply with a series of questions and a video camera. We started in the kindergarten room, which was adorned with all sorts of creative products from the children themselves. When we interviewed these young children there was a great enthusiasm. ‘Yes!’ -they all felt they were creative, and ‘Of course!’ – they were all proud of being creative. We felt significant relief and hope that creativity was still well and truly alive.

When we entered the senior classrooms the wall art was replaced with math and science charts, the children were sitting in rows, and everything was restricted and subdued. According to the teachers we interviewed there was “no need for the additional stimulation in the environment” as students were “being prepared for high school”. The students’ responses to the questions we asked were also markedly negative.

Asian students in the lower classes (or in India’s case, the lower castes) are providing a reliable workforce for global factories and services. They must learn and retain thousands of facts and formulae in a ‘pressure-cooker schooling system.’ A new report reveals that as many as a third of Chinese primary school children suffer from psychological stress. More than 80% of the students constantly worry about exams. Asian students top worldwide academic tests. But what they learn is of little relevance outside the classroom. So they retain the information for the least amount of time. They never learn how to apply the knowledge they gained to exercise their critical thinking and creative aspirations.

Following our classroom interviews, we surveyed thousands of seminar participants from companies we have worked with in Asia as well as in other regions around the world. We asked if they think they were more creative as children than they are as adults. Over 80% said they believe their level of creativity has declined, and many reveal that they struggled with being creative in their current work environment.

The need for critical creative thinking skills, at all levels and in all regions of the world, has never been greater.

Mr. Andrew Grant and Ms. Gaia Grant are authors of Who Killed Creativity? www.whokilledcreativity.com

Content excerpted from The Free Library http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Are+Asian+children+more+creative.-a0367722524

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