It's always tempting to assume the role of the old-fashioned curmudgeon — sit back in our La-Z-Boys, pipes in hand, and proclaim broad-brush hyperboles like, "Back in my day we played outside and walked through the woods. All these smart phones are ruining kids' creativity!"
Such pontificating can sound silly, out of touch, and if we're to believe recent research (never mind anecdotal evidence), it also happens to be true. Take a recent report from the Creativity Research Journal, which notes that "over the last 20 years, fictional writing produced by young people has become less creative, more linear and less likely to contain magical elements."
And why is that? It's simple. When kids fiddle on their smartphones rather than digging for worms in their backyards, their brains develop differently. They approach problems with more of a "check box" mentality rather than an approach that can be described as actually creative.
This problem will only intensify over time, which is why creative writing programs like Homework Room are so important. This is a program courtesy of Florida's Page 15, an organization that aims to provide literacy enrichment for kids to inspire them with a passion for reading and writing.
Page 15 places college-age tutors with children and its goal is simple. It wants to infuse the community with love for language and literature. That's right, no Common Core or "teaching to the test" or tutoring with the specter of a district administrator looming in the distance. Just college kids encouraging children to use their imaginations and write creatively. How novel.
Page 15 functions under the Urban Think Foundation, a nonprofit that funds and supports educational and creative programs in Orlando. In March 2014, Page 15 received a $40,000 Disney grant to fund programs like the Homework Room.
Most interestingly, there's nothing about this program that can't be replicated elsewhere, especially in communities that have seen funding for the creative arts shrink as standardized testing becomes more omnipresent and diabolical. Nonprofit organizations that offer similar programs will find many sympathetic ears.
Lastly, experts point to another earth-shattering approach for parents looking to boost their kids' ability to think creatively. Turn off the iPhone and go play outside.
You can thank us later.
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