The great creative decline

We know that kids get less creative as they get older. Kindergarteners score much higher on creativity evaluations than fifth graders and fifth graders score much higher than tenth graders.

I mostly work with high school and college students, but on Monday I led a workshop for middle schoolers. Two weeks prior, I led a similar workshop for high schoolers. This week, I was blown away by how much more creative the younger kids were.

They were tasked with coming up with board game ideas. The middle schoolers came up with scrabble variations where you pick up letters based on how you advance on the board. Other groups had trivia games. One group even had a game that involved monsters attacking and playing certain cards as protections.

High schoolers stuck much closer to the guidelines. There were no word spelling games, or monsters. The older students were not quite as creative, but they were better at following the rules. That’s to be expected with age and majority, but is that tendency related to the decline in creativity? I can’t help but think the answer is yes.

There must be a way to walk closer to the middle line. To stay creative, but still respect the right rules. It’s a delicate balance, if we want to stop the great creativity decline, I think it’s one we need to find.