Getting Serious About Creativity and Problem Solving
The United States can no longer excuse its poor academic performance by asserting that students in other nations excel in rote learning, while ours are better at problem solving. Recent test results clearly tell a different story.
Last month, the latest round of international standardized test results showed American students are lagging behind the rest of the developed world not just in math, science and reading, but in problem solving as well. The 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test examined 44 countries' students' problem-solving abilities -- American students landed just above the average, but they still scored below many other developed countries, including Britain, Singapore, Korea, Japan, China and Canada.
Content knowledge and the ability to solve problems must both be priorities for our students. While some ability to solve problems comes from knowledge of facts and persistence, other problem solving requires curiosity and creativity. Without this broader skill set, our students will not be prepared for the jobs of the future and success in the global economy. Our education system, then, must focus not only on building students' content knowledge, but also inspiring creativity and an entrepreneurial mindset. The countries that do so will be the ones that prosper.