Childrearing

Your Kids Are Less Creative Than You Were As A Kid

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It’s so easy for adults to complain about “kids these days,” but new research shows that you’re right when considering their creativity. Kids today don’t nearly have the same active imagination as they did 20 years ago, and you can blame everything from No Child Left Behind to standardized testing to rigid scheduling of extracurriculars.

Livescience reports that creativity is innate, and although it cannot necessarily be dissolved, it can be “suppressed.” Creatvity needs to be cultivated to prosper, and contemporary parenting tactics as well as clasroom strategies just don’t allow for it:

The current focus on testing in schools, and the idea that there is only one right answer to a question, may be hampering development of creativity among kids, [Ron] Beghetto [an education psychologist at the University of Oregon] said. “There’s not much room for unexpected, novel, divergent thought,” he said.

Livescience also reports that SAT scores are up, but producing the right answer doesn’t mean that a child is thinking — or producing a novel idea or concept for that matter. Research shows that children develop their imaginations during free play-time, which fewer and fewer children are getting:

Kids also nurture their creativity abilities when they “pretend,” said Sandra Russ, a psychologist at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio, who was not involved in [Kyung Hee] Kim‘s study. Elements of insight, fantasy and emotional expression all go into this type of story-making, Russ said.

Nowadays, with kids’ overbooked schedules, there is less time for pretend play, Russ said.

It’s concerning that an educational system that often encourages children to regurgitate facts and numbers (without really considering them) is costing kids their ability produce new ideas. Parents are also spreading their children too thin between homework, music lessons, and sports practice, and whatever test prep is needed to “prove” that their minds are developing. But letting kids create their own games, develop other voices, and under imaginary circumstances can sometimes be what’s best for them.