Are we killing creativity?
It’s test taking time. Please get out your sharpened #2 pencil and promptly fill in your name, grade, date of birth, gender, social security number, current grade point average, blood type, and favorite television sitcom in the space provided.
Although it may have been years since you have taken a standardized test, I invite you to complete my special test below, designed solely for the purpose of this blog. It goes without saying that the ultimate goal is for you to get the RIGHT answer. If you don’t, we might need to consider further test-taking strategies in the future. Okay, on to the test. You’ll be happy to know that it’s only one question.
Please look at the picture below and choose the appropriate answer.
What animal do you see?
d) None of the above
If you chose “c” as your answer, congratulations! I will soon be publishing your results in the local newspaper so that I can substantiate your learning and prove that you are meeting the Common Core standard.
But wait, is “c” really the only right answer? Allow me to explain perhaps the most fundamental flaw of standardized testing…it’s killing the creative process.
As you know, the majority of standardized tests are in multiple-choice format, which of course can be quickly graded by automated test scoring machines. Furthermore, inherent in this format is the notion that there is only one answer for each question and if you fail to find a certain number of right answers, then you have essentially failed. Herein lies the fundamental flaw of standardized tests. We can’t possibly measure the creative thinking process of the individual test taker with a multiple-choice test. I don’t know about you, but there were many occasions during my test-taking years in which I received the dreaded “check mark” for having the wrong answer, yet I could justify, through a process of creative thinking, that another answer could be right as well. Unfortunately, I was never given an opportunity to share my thought processes as the teacher was often well on his/her way toward preparing us for the next test.
Let’s go back to our original question. Did any of you choose “b” as your answer? If you did, congratulations! You were more than likely exercising your creative thinking skills. You weren’t necessarily concerned with getting THE answer, but rather choosing to see this picture through a new lens, a curious/creative lens. If you were in a traditional classroom, you would receive a failing score for having chosen “b”. However, if you were in the real world as a budding entrepreneur and were exercising your innovative thinking to see an alternative solution to a long existing problem, you might just be massively successful. Do you see the disconnect here?
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” Perhaps it’s time that we move away from our obsession with answers (which some refer to as “answer-itis”) and begin to teach our youth how to think “outside the box”, or in this case “beyond the answer”. Let’s drastically change the language of learning by placing a greater emphasis on 21st Century skills such as creativity and innovation. I invite you to watch the following video to see an example of what it means to think “beyond the answer”. (click here)
By the way, after seeing the picture below, you are more than welcome to change your original answer.