Five by 8 – 7/12/10: Peak creativity

This week’s Monday Morning Rouser.

1) Have we peaked? Newsweek examines our creativity — based on a study of Minneapolis kids in the ’50s — and determines it peaked around 1990. A researcher has tracked the kids since then and found that the “creativity index” that predicted their success (or not, as the case may be) was remarkably accurate.

That index was used to determine that we’re nothing like what we used to be. It’s a familiar story; our schools aren’t stressing creativity, and other countries are. And as usual, video games are given as a reason, even though there’s no solid (as in “scientific”) evidence:

It’s too early to determine conclusively why U.S. creativity scores are declining. One likely culprit is the number of hours kids now spend in front of the TV and playing videogames rather than engaging in creative activities. Another is the lack of creativity development in our schools. In effect, it’s left to the luck of the draw who becomes creative: there’s no concerted effort to nurture the creativity of all children.

Around the world, though, other countries are making creativity development a national priority. In 2008 British secondary-school curricula–from science to foreign language–was revamped to emphasize idea generation, and pilot programs have begun using Torrance’s test to assess their progress. The European Union designated 2009 as the European Year of Creativity and Innovation, holding conferences on the neuroscience of creativity, financing teacher training, and instituting problem-based learning programs–curricula driven by real-world inquiry–for both children and adults. In China there has been widespread education reform to extinguish the drill-and-kill teaching style. Instead, Chinese schools are also adopting a problem-based learning approach.

The researchers said creativity should be taken out of the art room, and put in the homeroom.

(h/t: Bring Me The News)

2) Here’s your time waste for the day. Forbes has put together an interactive map showing every county in the country. Click on a county and see where “wealthy” people are going when they leave your county (chances are: Florida) and where they come from when they arrive. Not surprisingly, the rich head for income-tax-free states.

Here’s Hennepin County. The red lines indicate outflow, the black lines indicate inflow. The darker the line for each shade, the more money. Click the images for a larger version.


Here’s Wayne County, Michigan — Detroit:


(h/t: David Erickson)

Meanwhile, two million people are losing their jobless benefits. How did this happen? The Associated Press analyzes Congress’ (in)action and finds (a) Democrats turned away from a bipartisan bill and loaded theirs up with billions for governors to keep state workers employed and (b) Republicans are really good at listening to their puppeteers.

Department of Hope: Sometimes, people who lose their jobs end up doing work they like better.

3) Bob Sheppard is one of the few people who could make you love something about the New York Yankees, because that “something” was Bob Sheppard. The Yankees have announced that Sheppard, their longtime public address announcer , has died. “Babe Ruth gave Yankee Stadium its nickname,” the New York Times said, “but Bob Sheppard gave it its sound.” He wasn’t like today’s announcers with their gutteral “and…now….YOUR….. Minnesota Timberwolves.” He was cut from the mold when announcers started their messages with, “ladies and gentlemen.”

More sports: World Cup? We don’t need no World Cup, not when there’s the bean-bag-throwing championships out in Marshall.

4) National Public Radio focuses on interracial marriages with a visit with a Cleveland couple — she’s from Minnesota. In 1970, not long after the Supreme Court struck down laws that prohibited interracial marriages, less than 2 percent of marriages in the United States were interracial. Today, that number is almost 6 percent.

5) It was Minnesota day on NPR yesterday, apparently. Weekend Edition Sunday featured Minnesota musician Steve Tibbetts.Bonus: Remember this 10-year old video?

There’s new research out based on the famous video:

Only 17 percent of those who were familiar with the old video noticed one or both of the other unexpected events in the new video. More here.


The big-sky country of the Red River Valley. This was taken by Nate Minor last evening just outside of Moorhead.



A Somali business owner finds graffiti on his storefront. A Hmong farmer is confronted by a neighbor with a shotgun. Do you witness episodes of racial intolerance in your own life?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: With President Obama receiving some of his lowest approval ratings since he came to office, some Democrats are distancing themselves ahead of the midterm elections. Meantime, Republicans are struggling with an unpopular party chairman and how to corral the growing Tea Party movement.

Second hour: Journalist Sarah Gabriel was a teenager when she lost her mother to ovarian cancer, and found through genetic testing that she might suffer the same fate. She writes of her experience fighting the disease that her mother was powerless against.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Todd Rapp and Maureen Shaver analyze the race for governor.

Second hour: TBA

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Ten people accused of spying for Russia have been released in the biggest US-Russia spy swap in decades, while new arrests of suspected terrorists in Norway have shed new light on al-Qaida operations around the globe. NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston is the guest for a discussion on counteterorrorism efforts in the U.S. Presumably the Minneapolis investigation into the recruitment of Somali teens by terrorist organizations will come as. Temple-Raston has been out front on the story for more than a year.

Meanwhile, at least one terrorism expert thinks al Shabab, the organization believed to have been recruiting the Minneapolis Somalis, is behind the bombing in Uganda yesterday.

Second hour: The relationship between humans and animals is at its most concentrated at the zoo, but most of us don’t think much about the tigers behind those bars — until they get out. Reporter Thomas French went behind the walls of a Tampa zoo, and found a paradox. Do they rescue animals enslave them, or both?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – This weekend officials with the Democratic National Committee will visit Minneapolis. Some city officials say Minneapolis is the best political and logistical site for the convention. But the city’s bid has sparked backlash from some who worry about a repeat of problems from the Republican National Convention in 2008. MPR’s Brandt Williams will have the story.