What happens to our creativity as we get older?
In 1968, George Land conducted a research study to test the creativity of 1,600 children ranging in ages from three-to-five years old who were enrolled in a Head Start program. This was the same creativity test he devised for NASA to help select innovative engineers and scientists. The assessment worked so well he decided to try it on children. He re-tested the same children at 10 years of age, and again at 15 years of age. The test scores results were astonishing:
Test results amongst 5 year olds: 98%
Test results amongst 10 year olds: 30%
Test results amongst 15 year olds: 12%
Same test given to 280,000 adults: 2%
“What we have concluded,” wrote Land, “is that non-creative behavior is learned.”
(Source: George Land and Beth Jarman, Breaking Point and Beyond. San Francisco: HarperBusiness, 1993)
For most, creativity has been buried by rules and regulations. Our educational system was designed during the Industrial Revolution over 200 years ago, to train us to be good workers and follow instructions.
Today we measure our childrens’ education simply by the number of exams passed and the grades obtained. Similarly, we grade the effectiveness of educational institutions according to league tables. Not only are we allowing children to become less creative, we are actually helping them to do it.
Later in life, we then tell them they have to be more creative and so we send them on courses or ply them with self-help books.
This is just plain wrong, we need employees with the creativity of 5 year olds. Maybe we should just employ 5 year olds?