Creativity Declines with Age

Source: World Class Learners, 2012

Land administered eight tests of divergent thinking, which measure an individual’s ability to envision multiple solutions to a problem. NASA had used these tests to measure the potential for creative work by its employees.

When the tests were first given to 1,600 three- to five-year-olds, Land found 98% of them to score at a level called creative genius. But five years later when the same group of children took the tests, only 32% scored at this level and after another five years, the percentage of geniuses declined to 10%.

Figure 0.1 illustrates the sharp decline in one measure of creativity as children get older. By 1992, more than 200,000 adults had taken the same tests and only 2% scored at the genius level.

The Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner also noted a decline in artistic creativity once children enter school (Gardner, 1982). Tony Wager also “observed that the longer our children are in school, the less curious they become” (Wagner, 2008, p. xxiii).

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