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Standardization Crushes Creativity in Students

Standardization threatens creativity right here at de Toledo.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of The Prowler.

Our society is increasing its standardized grip on students, preventing us from uncovering our uniqueness and innovative abilities in school. Through its adherence to traditional measures of knowledge and testing, the United States’ education system continues to hinder students’ natural ability to be creative.

We should regard standardization in schools as a creativity antagonist and not attribute a lack of creativity to an inability of the students. This will allow our society to recognize a problem that plagues our school system and, hopefully, encourage more people to take action in promoting creativity.

Standardization is not solely a problem in public schools; it is something that threatens creativity right here at de Toledo. Even though we are a private high school, our students take the SAT and ACT. The traditional methods of education, such as memorization and selected writing prompts, are still foundational elements of our courses at de Toledo.

Throughout the United States’ education system, test scores and standardized information have remained a constant. But these perceived measures of intelligence may be detrimental to students, as they seem to feel more vulnerable, unsafe, and anxious to a concerning degree.

Don Batt, a writer for the Denver Post, suggests that “standardized tests are killing our students’ creativity” and their “desire to learn” in school.

The rapid decline in creativity has been ignited by standardized testing and information, grades, and attempts to explain to other people how they can use their imaginations. 

Some may argue that creativity and knowledge can be quantified through testing. These people may question how creativity can possibly be measured if it is not through test results. This is precisely where the problem has emerged.

The authors of a 2010 article called “The Creativity Crisis,” Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, describe the creative process in students as “[creeping] downward” when measured by specific tests. These tests reveal a downward trend in students’ ability to demonstrate their creativity, which demonstrates a fault in the nature of these tests. The test-oriented nature of our education system is attempting to quantify an intangible capability, and it is doing so unsuccessfully.

A student’s knowledge, intelligence, and innovative ability can supposedly be determined by whether they circle A, B, C, or D on an answer sheet provided to them by the College Board. The majority of students are only given the allotted time to complete each exam section, when each student processes information differently. When given the opportunity to write on the SAT, students are tasked with evaluating the effectiveness of another writer instead of producing creative ideas themselves.

It is evident that tests like the ACT and SAT are unrelated to creativity, which is a facet of intelligence. These tests merely measure many students’ lack of innovative and imaginative thinking in a school environment. They reveal a decline without an apparent cause or solution. In addition, many people, especially current students, do not seem to recognize their own inherent creativity because of their test scores, an inaccurate measure of the creative process.

Each year, education and the college acceptance process becomes more competitive and standardized. Schools instill new policies and demands that pressure students to meet the increasing expectations of colleges and the workforce. Schools are also working to emulate the “ideal” student because of the growing competition and demands, which has led to a more standardized education and a lack of experiential learning–the type of learning that helps reinforce uniqueness and can ignite a desire in students to experiment with the creative process.

An Idea to Value blog by KH Kim in 2017 presented research supporting the dependence of “highly-selective university and graduate [schools]…on high-stakes tests such as the ACT and the SAT,” which has standardized a measure of ability by making intelligence something that can be assigned a number. These testing agencies are failing to consider creativity as a measure of knowledge and mastery.

The true measure of creativity seems to be in the product of individuals’ innovations. When we look at what people create through their own imaginations and talent, we focus less on capturing the creative process and more on the impact. This phenomenon is a unique process that brings us music, art, technological advancements, and so much more.

With an increased emphasis on creating model students and desiring similar goals for students, schools and the College Board are stifling creativity.

Is it possible that the decline in creativity and knowledge is a result of trying to quantify an often indefinable phenomenon? By trying to categorize what is considered “creative,” we are putting creativity in a box, which is counterproductive; therefore, this tendency must be stopped.

Creativity exists only when we stop trying to define it.







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