In the 1960s, NASA was seeking innovative talents and funded a study by George Land, aimed at understanding creativity in children. This study involved 1600 children aged 3 to 5 from a Head Start program. The findings were remarkable: as many as 98% of these children showed extraordinary creativity, offering a fascinating glimpse into the nature of creativity, especially at a young age.
Decline in Creativity
However, this high score was short-lived. Follow-up research showed that as these children aged, the percentage of creative geniuses sharply decreased. By age 10, it was only 30%, and at 15 years old, just 12%. Among adults, this percentage had even dropped to 2%. This indicated a concerning decrease in creativity over time.
Creative Thinking and Education
Land presented his findings at a TEDxTucson an demeeting, discussing two types of thinking: divergent (focused on imagination and new ideas) and convergent (focused on judgment and evaluation). He argued that the education system often forces these two thinking styles to coexist, which hinders creativity. According to him, the prevalent educational model, promoting these two thinking styles simultaneously, undermines children’s creative development.
Education and Creative Development
Land’s long-term study exposed a fundamental problem: traditional education suppresses children’s natural creativity, resulting in less creative adults. This discovery highlights the need for educational reforms that stimulate creativity and support the inherent creative capacities in every individual.
Land suggests that there is a vast, untapped creative resource that could be utilized if educational paradigms shift towards promoting divergent thinking. He calls for a rethinking of educational structures, aiming to rekindle creative genius. According to Land, fostering creative talent is akin to rediscovering the limitless imagination of our childhood.
Back to Creative Sources
George Land’s insights offer a unique perspective on the importance of creativity in education. They remind us that true innovation and genius are often rooted in the unrestrained creativity of children. Perhaps the key to unlocking our full potential lies in revaluing and restructuring our educational methods. By cultivating the creative spirit, we might return to the boundless imagination we once had.
Practice What You Preach
It’s essential for parents and adults to set an example in promoting creativity. The principle of ‘practice what you preach’ plays a crucial role here. Adults must not only encourage creative thinking but also actively apply it in their own lives. This can be done by involving children in creative processes, such as making art together, inventing stories, or solving problems through brainstorming.