If anything makes Americans stand tall internationally it is creativity. "American ingenuity" is admired everywhere. We are not the richest country (at least not as measured by smallest percentage in poverty), nor the healthiest (far from it), nor the country whose kids score highest on standardized tests (despite our politicians' misguided intentions to get us there), but we are the most inventive country. We are the great innovators, specialists in figuring out new ways of doing things and new things to do. Perhaps this derives from our frontier beginnings, or from our unique form of democracy with its emphasis on individual freedom and respect for nonconformity. In the business world as well as in academia and the arts and elsewhere, creativity is our number one asset. In a recent IBM poll, 1,500 CEOs acknowledged this when they identified creativity as the best predictor of future success.
It is sobering, therefore, to read Kyung Hee Kim's recent research report documenting a continuous decline in creativity among American schoolchildren over the last two or three decades.