A couple of weeks ago, I had an interesting chat with some parents from school at a birthday party. Over the course of the discussion, the consensus seemed to be that the mainstream school system doesn't seem to allow for individuality - there are too many kids in the class, the teachers are overworked and sticking to the curriculum and accepting without questioning it, is expected.
Having it said out loud suddenly made it sound as ridiculous as it is so I wondered...is this the best way to make intelligent, resourceful adults who strive to be better?
So I researched.
And I found a Tedx talk given by Dr. George Land which shocked me. You can see the full video below.
Many years ago, NASA contacted Dr. Land to develop a test to measure the creative potential of their engineers and scientists. The test he created alongside Beth Jarman, was incredibly successful but the results made Dr. Land wonder where creativity actually comes from - are we born with it, is it learned or does it come from experience?
So he and Beth gave the test to 1600 children from 4-5 years old. The test looked at the kids ability to create new, different and innovative ideas to problems.
And the percentage of kids who fell into the "Genius" category?
The scientists were so shocked by this that they decided to do a longitudinal study at five year intervals. The results? Even more shocking.
|Age at Time of Test||% in Genius Category|
Yeah, that's not good.
The scary part is, that these are not isolated results. In fact, according to an article by Gavin Nascimento, they have been replicated more than a MILLION times and it is he who has concluded that the school system is robbing us of our creativity.
Now in all fairness, Mr. Nascimento does also go on to state that this is due to the ruling class wanting to keep the common people dumbed down and not question their place in the world so they simply "accept (and even serve) their rapacious system of artificial scarcity, unending exploitation, and incessant war."
So there's that grain of salt to take.
But the numbers don't lie.
SO WHAT DO WE DO?
Luckily, Dr. Land believes that we can get our creativity back.
Recent brain studies have concluded that there are two different types of thinking:
- Convergent: Making judgements and decisions. Testing and Analysing.
- Divergent: Imaginative. Creative. Open-ended.
So what we need to do is teach kids both kinds of thinking in equal measure. We need to stop with the focus on convergent thinking and activate the whole brain. As Dr. Land says:
“When we actually looking inside the brain we find that neurons are fighting each other and actually diminishing the power of the brain because we’re constantly judging, criticising and censoring. If we operate under fear we use a smaller part of the brain, but when we use creative thinking the brain just lights up.”
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?
Well, I'm not advocating mass home-schooling and rebellion but I am advocating for awareness and for us parents to take a greater role in what our children learn.
We can get our kids brains (and our own) more by getting more creative.
For example, tonight at dinner, hold up your spoon and ask everyone to write down 10 ideas on how it could be improved. There's no right or wrong - just get those neurons activating.