Newsweek recently ran an article called "The Creativity Crisis" describing the fact that creativity skills in children are measurably decreasing. This trend is terribly alarming, considering the fact that creative-thinking skills are widely recognized as crucial to success in the 21st-century world. Parents have certainly been buzzing in response to the article - I've read a number of posts about it online and I've overheard people talking about it around town, too. Some have suggested that as long as they're encouraging their own kids to be creative at home, then they're doing enough. But I disagree.
I think that if we only 'take care of our own' then nothing is ever going to change for the better and the decreasing creativity trend will get even worse. For most of the year our kids spend most of their day in school, commuting to and from school, and doing homework. I've read for several years about the narrowing of the curriculum as more and more school districts focus on standardized test scores, and I've seen it happen firsthand in my own school district over the past two years. But I also know that parents have a lot of influence, more than many of us realize, and that if we all made an effort to do one small thing more, we might be able to effect real change regarding creativity in our public schools.
Of course we can all encourage our own kids to be creative (and there are many places to look to for inspiration, for example), but that 'one thing more' I mentioned is this: we can also encourage our kids' teachers and principals and school administrators to bring more creativity into the classroom. There's a great arts-advocacy campaign that uses the tag-line "The Arts. Ask For More." and the premise here is the same. If we all let our kids' teachers and principals and school administrators know, over and over again, that encouraging creativity in the classroom is something that we value greatly and want to see more of, then we can change things for the better in our kids' schools. Just with the power of conversation! I've been thinking of an old saying that goes something like, "a single drop of water will raise the level of the sea". Well, imagine what a downpour can accomplish!