RC Community Summer Read 2014

“Creativity is Intelligence at Play”
-- Albert Einstein

Each year we select a “summer reads” for the RC community to read and reflect on over the summer and to discuss, in various ways, during the Fall term.  It serves both as a way for us to welcome the newest members of our community – the incoming Class of 2018 – and to reconnect with each other.  Our focus this summer is on creativity.

But what is creativity? And is it in decline in America, especially among the young? There are recent studies suggesting that this is the case. The most notable is educational psychologist Kyung Hee Kim’s “The Creativity Crisis: The Decrease in Creative Thinking Scores on Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking” (Creativity Research Journal, 2011). It’s a dense and demanding article to read, filled with statistical data and quantitative analysis, but it’s the main source for more popular pieces in the national press.We aren't including it in our summer reads "syllabus", but if you'd like, you can find Kim's article here

Interestingly, while Kim was able to measure a decline in levels of creativity, she was not able to explain it. Some, such as Sir Ken Robinson (author, speaker, international advisor on education in the arts) blame our educational system with its focus on standardized testing and “zero-tolerance” policies. You can watch his TED talk – “How to Escape Education’s Death Valley” –here and we’ll be viewing segments of it together at the RC Convocation on September 5th.

Others have blamed a wider culture of “over-protectiveness” of children and young people, which are making them – and us – more fearful and less creative. These ideas are explored in a terrific piece by Hanna Rosin that appeared in the Atlantic Monthly.  This is also part of this year’s RC Summer Reads.

Whether there is also a rise in loneliness (connected, perhaps, to creativity’s decline) is another pressing question we’d like to explore as a community. One of the great promises of technology has always been to make us more connected. Yet at a moment when we can communicate instantly with people across the globe we seem to be losing a sense of connectedness with those literally next door to us. Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other is a provocative analysis of this theme. Please read the chapters we’ve selected here.

The Turkle chapters, the Rosen article and the Robinson TED talk collectively constitute this year’s RC Summer Reads. Please join us as we explore these thoughts.  Enjoy and we’ll see you in the Fall!