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Debate Over Intelligence and Creativity Holds Little Relevance

Is there a relationship between IQ, or intelligence, and creativity? If so, what is it? Equally important, how can we use one measurement to test another?
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An age-old question has been raised anew in the last few weeks.

Is there a relationship between IQ, or intelligence, and creativity? If so, what is it? Equally important, how can we use one measurement to test another?

What makes all this so important is simply that creativity is now widely recognized as one of the most important ingredients to success in the new economy and intelligence -- IQ at least -- has been, strangely some say, growing at 3% per decade as reported in the Cambridge Journal of Biosocial Science.

Yet creativity, according to a few major studies, is on the decline.

Professor James Flynn of New Zealand pointed out some years ago, that at least in some parts of the world, we have seen the tests of intelligence creeping up and ostensibly kids are getting higher scores and thus, one might assume, smarter. But this is not because they are really more blessed but better fed, better informed and generally living a more enriched life.

Newsweek magazine, in a major report on what they called The Creativity Crisis in America published last July said "a reverse trend has just been identified and is being reported for the first time here: American creativity scores are falling."

I am not a neuroscientist, psychologist or brain scientist so I am unable to offer much guidance in researching intelligence, intelligence tests or so called IQ-tests, and creativity. I was heartened to learn that there is little agreement about either concept or how to measure for it. Worse, there seems no agreement on how we make people smart or creative.

This we do know.

Intelligence and creativity are both important to success and survival in the new economy and as Professor Jonathan Wai, Professor, a psychologist, and research scientist at the Duke University Talent Identification Program says "studies suggest is that there is probably more overlap between intelligence and creativity than we realize." He points out that even Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft remarked "You need to understand things in order to invent beyond them."

We may never figure out how to measure creativity -- although some states are trying. But it is important is that we recognize that a whole new economy and society based upon creativity and innovation is emerging and that as a consequence, it is of vital importance that we reinvent our communities, our businesses, our government, and most importantly our schools to meet the challenges such major structural shifts are compelling.

As Dana Gioia, former Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts once said "America is not going to succeed through cheap labor or cheap raw materials, nor even the free flow of capital or a streamlined industrial compete successfully, this country needs creativity, ingenuity, and innovation."

And he could have added, we need to stop measuring ourselves by old standards, IQ tests or indexes.

In fact, according to a recent McKinsey study reported in the Economist magazine, "teaching to the test" and standard Federal standards only impede the learning process. What seems most important are: "four important themes ... decentralization (handing power back to schools); a focus on underachieving pupils; a choice of different sorts of schools; and high standards for teachers."