In 1968, George Land conducted a research study to test the creativity of 1.600 children ranging in ages from 3-5 years old (same creativity test is used for NASA to help select innovative engineers and scientists). He re-tested the same children at 10 years of age, and again at 15 years of age. The results were astounding. The proportion of people who scored at the “Genius Level”, were:
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 is that non-creative behavior is learned.”
Source: George Land and Beth Jarman, Breaking Point and Beyond
Can Creativity be Taught?
As adults we are not only programed to search for the answer but we are consistently rewarded for knowing the answer. But an essential part of creativity is not knowing the answers.
Research on creativity and innovation suggests that truly innovative solutions result not from searching for a “correct answer,” but from the collision of different ideas, perspectives and life experiences.
It is a practice of finding new ways to look at a problem and generating multiple solutions. In divergent thinking, the emphasis isn’t to agree on the best idea – it’s to get as far away as possible from the most obvious answer.
As David and Tom Kelley say in Creative Confidence, “Creativity isn’t some rare gift to be enjoyed by the lucky few – it’s a natural part of human thinking and behavior.”
Young children tend to score far higher than adults in divergent thinking skills.
Creativity is a skill that can be developed and a process that can be managed.
We learn to be creative by experimenting, exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination and synthesizing information – failing in order to learn and collaborating with diverse people who aren’t like us.