Are today’s students noticeably lacking in creativity? Many think that the simple answer to this question is yes. It seems like the things that were set in place to aid students have not, in reality, accomplished that. Reforms like No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and Common Core aim to improve America’s competitiveness in the global marketplace by measuring students’ progress and cognizance using standardized tests. The issue is that the application of these standards to a high-stakes test environment is somewhat a formula for disaster. This should be realized before its effects on education becomes another huge default in the American public school system. Could this actually be true though? Are standardized tests effectively creating ‘standard’ students? I guess it makes sense to think that they’re not likely to result in innovative and spontaneous learners who will be equipped to change the world one day. What is the reason for this concern and how can students be made into intuitive learners who enjoy education and plan on using it to become imaginative and progressive adults
Why are standardized tests even correlated with lack of creative students? Well, recently, public education in the U.S. has placed an increased emphasis on common-core programs. With today’s ‘Common Core,’ certain math, science and humanities courses have been grouped into a basic curriculum, with each student’s proficiency judged by his or her performance on a wide array of standardized tests. This doesn’t seem like a good way to nurture creativity in students’ minds and this new norm by which students are either right or wrong in their answers is a system that has too many faults. These faults are especially apparent in its categorization and quantification. Also, with increased emphasis on math and science and with increased pressure on students to get jobs in the STEM fields (which have growing job markets), the death of creativity seems imminent. The notion that ideas and answers must be either right or wrong places limits on students who, in turn, are punished for thinking outside the box or for taking risks. It is feared that this may hamper innovative ideas in the minds of students.
With teachers and parents indirectly pushing students to choose science- and math-related careers, public-school funding for performance arts has dried up the past couple of decades. While this has a blatant detrimental effect on the development of artists and performers, the ascension of standardized tests is also killing creativity in other fields. The truth is that creativity is not something that solely resides in arts, as it is so often incorrectly depicted. Some experts even say that creativity is innate and therefore cannot really be ‘lost’. It’s not difficult to see that creativity is inherent in almost every branch of knowledge. It is the fire that helps forge innovation and improvement, and indeed creativity is also an integral a part of math and science. Creativity is what drives continual improvement and arguably is essential for success in all manners of everyday life. Arguably, one could say that it is intrinsic to a high quality life!
If you think about it, how else could we enjoy our current technological boom? How else did we evolve from simple hunters and gatherers to beings on the verge of exploring Mars, a planet nearly 140 million miles away? Creativity and the freedom of exploration and curiosity that comes with it also nurture successful businesses and drive economic improvement. While certain fields understandably require a stricter inclination for correct and incorrect answers, it’s important to allow students to explore answers without fear of being punished for their creative endeavors. The Common Core’s emphasis on standardized testing limits our ability to comprehend and question. Which means students consequentially focus less on the material they are studying but more on the tests they are taking and strategies for easily taking those tests.
With every day and every minute that passes, we face new problems with rising wealth and education gaps, economic instability, environmental destruction and the increasing exhaustion of our already declining nonrenewable resources. By limiting creativity in our public school system, we are only adding more to this plethora of problems. This has caused me to conclude that the rise of standardized testing as a pillar of general education is too fundamentally detrimental to the imaginative minds that students could enhance and better utilize in an educational environment. Hopefully new reforms will come soon and change this flawed system for the betterment of the student and the general society.