NASA commissioned Dr. George Land and Beth Jarman to conduct a study to detect, identify and develop creative talent. It's easy to assume that they were looking for astronauts who could come up with imaginative solutions to certain contingencies in space. However, these experts had a more special assignment, they were not going to investigate adults, but children.
The research focused on identifying creative talent in the school stages and they discovered something surprising that should make us think. This is what happens with the genuine creativity of children during their school years.
These doctors discovered that children lost their ability to think, imagine, or innovate over time. As they progressed in their school years, they lost creativity. Ultimately, they concluded that children have an innate creative genius but enter adulthood having lost much of this incredible ability.
Land and Jarman studied 1,600 children ages 5, 10, and 15. They all were presented with a problem on which they had to apply an innovative, different, imaginative solution and they discovered that:
- 98% of the year-olds gave great answers, that is, they were little geniuses.
- Those same children by the age of 10 had lost the ability to think creatively. So much so that only 30% of the kids fit the level of great responses.
- The data at 15 years were even worse. The researchers came back to put the same children back under circumstances where they had to give imaginative responses, and only 12% did it brilliantly.
How is it possible that all that talent is lost over time? The explanation given by these experts directly attacked the current approach to teaching and the way children learn, since, directly, it kills creativity. "Those factories for human beings, also called schools, serve so that we can make people who can function well in factories." A quite controversial comment but on which it is worth reflecting.
Ultimately, students are not prepared to think or to give creative responses, they are prepared to pass standardized tests.
The education model present in most countries does not stimulate children enough to think, create, innovate or imagine. All of them highly valued qualities in a very competitive world of work, where those who, in addition to having good knowledge to develop their work, propose, innovate and are proactive stand out.
It is possible that your children, like mine, at some point, have come across a teacher who criticized, judged or made fun of a brilliant idea, so little by little, they stopped proposing and cornered their ideas. Nor do they encourage them to think, they just have to follow a set agenda, strict and without margin for creativity.
How to fight it? These experts propose that parents, teachers and institutions fight to get rid of the 3 aspects that kill children's creative talent: judgment, criticism and censorship.
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