And always has been. Creativity is not only about art, literature and music, but about producing something new and useful. As in every generation before us, we are faced with new problems that seem unsolvable: climate change and the development of renewable energy sources to a large scale, a financial crisis the cause of which is deeply ingrained in the economic system of our own creation, finding ways to alleviate hunger and disease, and a very long etcetera.
According to Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman in their article for Newsweek (‘The Creativity Crisis’, July 2010 issue) ‘creativity scores had been rising…until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward’. What does this mean? Well, to me it means there are less people in the world with the capacity to approach these problems and help find solutions. The driving force of progress in every step of our history is the many individuals who, through their independent or collective innovation cure us of disease, improve our technology, inspire us to rebel against oppression and generally move us forward. Bronson and Merryman continue: ‘The necessity of human ingenuity is undisputed. A recent IBM poll of 1500 CEOs identified creativity as the no. 1 leadership competency of the future.’
If activities which promote creativity, like art and music, are not included and given rightful importance not only in the classroom but also at home, we will soon find ourselves in a Brave New World in which the class divide will no longer be as important as the ‘brain divide’. In a poll I read today in El País (www.elpais.com, 11th Oct 2010) parents described activities they did with their children and ranked them in terms of how long they spent doing them: the first eight include taking them to school, eating and watching TV; not until item nine we find a creative activity like ‘reading a story’. University of New Mexico neuroscientist Rex Jung has concluded that people who practice creative activities learn to recruit their brains’ creative networks quicker and better and that the habit gradually changes the neurological pattern.
Does this mean that, by not promoting creative thinking, we are hindering human evolution?
Guillermina Chivite for Cactus Music School