“American creativity is declining. American creativity is declining.” 

This is the thought that has been running around in my head for weeks. It feels a little like Chicken Little running around the farm yard of my mind. But where Chicken Little’s prophecy of the sky falling was wrong, this one is correct according to the cover story in the July 19 Newsweek magazine.

According to the article, multiple researchers at multiple universities are all saying the same thing, since 1990 “creativity scores have consistently inched downward.” These creativity tests have been performed since the 1950s, and the creativity tests, like IQ tests, had been steadily rising, until 1990. Researchers at the College of William & Mary stated: “It is the scores of younger children in America — from kindergarten through sixth grade — for whom the decline is ‘most serious.’”

There is no conclusive evidence why the U.S. creativity scores are declining, but the article sites two likely culprits. One is the number of hours our kids spend watching TV or playing video games, and the other is the “lack of creativity development in our schools.”

Neuroscientists have come up with the technology to map the active quadrants of the brain, and they can decisively state that creative people are not just right-brained people. Creative people can actually activate both the right side and left side of their brains simultaneously. These same researchers also say the creativity can be taught, and that activity between the two sides of the brain can be increased.

The article went on to say that while the U.S. schools are focusing on standardized curriculum, rote memorization and nationalized testing, the European Union and China are trying to increase creativity by adopting a problem-based learning approach. This problem-based learning approach involves five steps: fact-finding, problem-finding, idea-finding, solution-finding and a plan of action.

An example of this type of learning is a middle school challenged the fifth graders to work in teams to come up with a solution to reduce the street noise in the library.

The article states that creativity should be brought out of the art and music classrooms and be used to teach all subjects. What happens when the music and the art classes are cut? How do you make sure your child and/or yourself gets a creative advantage?

The article suggested some ideas that will boost the creative process: reduce TV time, get moving (30 minutes of aerobic exercise), follow a passion and explore other cultures. All are very doable.

I do not feel that creativity is exclusive to the fine arts, and our current exhibit, the Art of Industry,  is a perfect example.

This exhibit could easily be called the Creativity of Industry. Stop down into the Columbus Art Gallery and celebrate the creativity and ingenuity of six of our local manufacturing plants.

Upcoming Events sponsored by the Columbus Arts Council & the Columbus Art Gallery

n The current exhibit explores the rich artistic qualities found in our local manufacturing products and processes. The exhibit is called Art in Industry and will educate the viewer on products made here in Columbus and expand their vision of art.

n Pre-school StoryART begins Thursday, Sept. 9, at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and continues every other Thursday through May. Bring you little ones to explore the wonderful world of literature and the arts.

n Two free concerts by the homestories, a pop musical group from Switzerland, in the Columbus Art Gallery at 5:15 and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21. This concert is presented through the Arts Underground series.

n Bus trip to the Broadway production of West Side Story Sunday, Oct. 24, at the Orpheum Theater in Omaha. Tickets are $100 and include transportation, lunch, the greatest love story of all time, and a snack. Call Susan at 563-1016 for ticket information.

The Columbus Arts Council’s mission is to “enrich the community through the promotion and sponsorship of the fine arts.” Please use our gallery and staff as your local resource for opportunities to enrich your life with the arts. Check our website at www.artscolumbusne.org or visit us on Facebook.

Susan Schoenhofer is the executive director of the Columbus Arts Council.