Are kids today as creative as they used to be?

By: Joe Bergner, Partner/Exec. Creative Director, Imaginasium

It’s an interesting question – and maybe, seemingly, an odd one. But it’s one I began to ponder when asked to write a guest column for the Boys & Girls Club blog on the importance of art expression among our youth.

I would contend that creativity is innate in all of us, at least in varying degrees. And that the youngest among us — unencumbered by the realities, distractions and cynicism of adults that can drive the imaginative spirit deep inside us — are freely and naturally creative. But are they less so today than in previous generations?

Sadly, research indicates that creativity actually has decreased in our children in recent years, particularly in America. Kyung Hee Kim, a researcher at the College of William and Mary, has found that 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,” Kim said. Sobering thoughts. Have the modern distractions of our world gotten to our youth as well and actually extinguished the creative spark of our future? Maybe.

Perhaps this leads one to ask if creativity is even important in our world today? Again, I would contend that the answer is yes. In fact, it’s never been more so. I believe creativity holds the greatest hope for our future. And I’m not alone. Richard Florida, author of “Rise of the Creative Class” says that creativity has become the driving force of economic growth and that the Creative Class that engages in creativity therefore drives America economically. Look around you and it’s impossible to miss the growing influence of innovation in our lives. From the nearly constant emergence and evolution of technology to the fresh reimagining of the simplest functional items for the home (such as the works of Michael Graves and Karim Rashid) — design, creativity and ingenuity are everywhere and in demand. And in an ever-growing global competitive marketplace, our youth must be the world’s future leaders — the spearhead of society — driving what’s next.

A vital catalyst for this level of thinking is art expression. Engaging in visual/audio exploration causes the mind to see new patterns and possibilities, which is fundamental to problem-solving at all levels. This type of creativity is the highest aspect of education and must be viewed as such. Yet the arts are often seen as a lesser discipline to others like math and the sciences — as luxuries, frivolous, and expendable. But without applied creativity, all other subjects remain academic — lifeless laws, principles, and numbers on a page. It requires creativity to see new combinations, new possibilities in the world around us.

Are our kids today as creative as they used to be? Yes, but only if we nurture it.

Joe Bergner

Partner/Exec. Creative Director

Imaginasium

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