Small Talks, No. 92
January 20, 2023
Welcome to the ninety second edition of Small Talks. Every Friday, I highlight 6 areas of weekly joys and reflections in early childhood and the whole family. Small Talks leverages my experience at the intersection of education, philanthropy, and impact investing. Enjoy!
What I’m celebrating -
This week is “creativity week.” Here’s to our little ones’ creative genius!
In the late 1960’s, two researchers Dr, George Land and Beth Jarman, who had previously been hired by NASA, looked at creativity in 1,600 4- and 5-year-old children and had an extraordinary discovery. They found that 98% children were creative geniuses. In other terms, all little learners are naturally creative.
Researchers then followed those children longitudinally. By age 10, only 30% of the children were considered creative geniuses. By high school, it was only 12%. By adulthood, that number drops to 2%.
You can watch Dr. George Land’s 2011 TedX Talk here.
New creativity measurements are emerging, including “creative foraging” that go deeper into creativity and child development. Key takeaways are:
“Compared to adults, children spend a higher percentage of their search exploring, and their exploitation phases are less efficient. Moreover, children orient their search to a different and smaller region of the search space, but within that space they produce more unique creative products. Lastly, as children grow up, their creative products become more adult-like and their uniqueness decreases.”
Celebrating an innovator focused on creativity - Khan Academy Kids -, and a beautiful write-up by Mark Swartz for Early Learning Nation.
What I’m listening to -
On a related topic, a long video featuring Dr. Kyung Hee Kim about our “creativity crisis” in America. Using the Torrance creativity test, Dr. Kim demonstrated that creativity has dramatically declined over the past 30 years. She also showed that the Torrance test is 3x more predictive of creative achievements than IQ tests.
Dr. Kim updated her research in 2017: the crisis is growing worse, especially for younger children (which she attributes to our test culture)
I am left pondering if there is any linkage between lower creativity in children and decline in innovation in science. Based on this recent analysis of the past 60 years of 25 million patents, human innovations are becoming less disruptive.
What I’m reading
David Eagleman, neuroscientist, author and host of the show PBS's The Brain wrote with Anthony Brandt The Runaway Species. The book seeks to help us understand how our brains support the level of creativity and innovation that are unique to us as humans. The book offers a framework of the three Bs - Bending, Breaking and Blending.
The authors end with a probing essay on why the sciences need the arts, “a boot camp for bending, breaking, and blending.”
What I’m watching -
Of course, we also celebrate the legacy of Sir Ken Robinson on the topic of creativity, with his most watched TedTalk and other meaningful contributions on the topic.
“Creativity is as important as literacy.”
— Sir Ken Robinson
Can creativity be taught?
What I’m learning more deeply -
Ten tips for cultivating creativity by Mitchell Resnick, Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab, and author of Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passions, Peers, and Play
How to increase creativity (for adults) is a nice summary of different ways to increase creativity. Boredom, messiness, playing outside are top of the list.
Beautiful piece by Alison Gopnik connecting children creativity to the real key of intelligence.
Two quotes I’m pondering -
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
— Maya Angelou
“I have to change to stay the same.”
— Painter Willem de Kooning
Feedback is a gift. Which part above is your favorite? What did I miss? What do you want more or less of? Other recommendations? Please kindly let me know. Thank to all of you who are sending me amazing suggestions.
If you enjoy this newsletter, please help spread the word by sharing with your friends, colleagues, and networks.
Have a wonderful week. Please stay safe and care for each other.
Small talks is something all childhood advocates should subscribe to.
Hi Isabelle. I always enjoy the weekly infusion of knowledge, reflection and resource-sifting your newsletter provides though some weeks I tuck it away until I have time to absorb and savor it. On the topic of creativity, I'm wondering if you've seen Elisabeth McClure's TED talk? If not, you might find it interesting: https://www.ted.com/talks/elisabeth_mcclure_are_children_really_more_creative_than_adults