An interesting piece in the Huffington Post titled The Education Reform Paradox and the Extinction of Higher Level Thinking Skills led me to another article in The Week, which included this section:

While IQ scores are indisputably on the rise, American creativity levels are bottoming out. Analysis of the results of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking suggests that the creative abilities of American children have been spiraling downward for almost 20 years. The Torrance tests analyze young children’s ability to come up with original ideas and put them into practice. Kyung Hee Kim, an assistant professor at the College of William & Mary School of Education, found that scores on Torrance tests taken by children up to 6th grade between 1968 and 2008 showed a steady decline after 1990.

That’s a serious issue at a time when creative thinking is among the most desperately needed skills in the American workplace. A recent study found that 85 percent of employers concerned with hiring creative people say they can’t find the right applicants. Kim blamed America’s standards-obsessed schools for creating an environment in which creative thinking was not nurtured. “Creative students cannot breathe, they are suffocated in school,” she said. “Then they become underachievers.

That passage gave me an idea.

I went to the Google Ngram Viewer (see The Best Posts To Help Understand Google’s New “Books Ngram Viewer”) and compared “standardized tests” with “creative thinking” to see how often they had been mentioned.

Here’s what it came up with:

The Ngram Viewer is obviously not a precise scientific tool, but it is interesting to see that it seems to reflects a somewhat similar comparison over the past 25 years….