“No Child Left Behind” was created to solve our nation’s academic issues, right? Don’t be so sure. Considering the program’s incredible ability to suck every creative aspect out of schools and students, it might as well have been devised to prevent future generations from doing anything artistic or innovative again.
Research has shown that American kids are duller than ever before. TV and video games are certainly a part of the problem, but the huge focus on standardized testing brought on by NCLB has been equally devastating for child creativity. According to MSNBC reports, “Since 1990, children have become less able to produce unique and unusual ideas. They are also less humorous, less imaginative and less able to elaborate on ideas.”
Since the average school curriculum these days focuses on testing, students are taught how to test but not how to think. Instead of encouraging curiosity and creative thinking processes in the classroom, teachers are teaching students that every question has only one right answer, and that a …
… mix of studying and memorization is the key to finding it.
According to Ron Beghetto, an education psychologist at the University of Oregon, “It’s not that creativity can necessarily disappear, but it can be suppressed in particular contexts.” But while it’s clear that testing in schools has left room for little else in the school environment, there is still hope for kids today. At least, according to Sandra Russ, a psychologist at Case Western University.
A study conducted by Russ in both 1985 and 2008 has concluded that in there free time, kids have become even more creative with time. These results are not entirely surprising since so many video games and other electronics can actually help kids develop both creative and problem solving skills. While it’s great to know that creativity hasn’t been lost forever, researchers aren’t sure that children will apply play time creativity to the real world, as they would creativity at school.
You may be thinking something along the lines of, “Well school is for learning, and how can we know how much a child really knows without testing them?” Simple – by creating broader tests that allow for things like critical thinking, problem solving, and general creativity. Something a little more out of the box, and a little less “bubble in the correct answer’s circle.”