Creativity, Joy, & Originality

Dear Families,

We have spent the past month discussing the dangers of excessive screen time, the importance of silence and reflection, and pondering the words of great men such as Saint John Paul II. Now we turn to the question: How does technology limit our creativity? How does it keep us from being the loving, innovative creatures made in His likeness and image?

In their book, The App Generation (Gardner & Davis, 2013) pioneering psychologist Howard Gardner (Multiple Intelligences theory) notices that although, “Digital media open up new avenues for youth to express themselves creatively… an app mentality can lead to an unwillingness to stretch beyond the functionality of the software and the packaged sources of inspiration that come with a Google search” (p.121). Imagine a box of crayons with only five colors. Any picture generated using that tiny box will naturally be limited. How excited were you when opening the magical box of Crayola’s 64 Colors? The possibilities were only limited by your imagination. The over-use of apps, programs, and digital games locks children into prescribed ways of thinking and acting. It limits God’s creation and design.

In Gardner and Davis’ research art teachers observe that over the last 20 years, “today’s students have more difficulty in coming up with their own ideas… they used to jump in and see where the materials would take them, now they ask what to do” (p.139-140). Scores from over 300,000 creativity tests show, “a pronounced decline in scores across all areas… steepest from 1998-2008” (p.128). While correlation is not causation, there is no denying the relationship between increased device use and lower levels of creativity/innovation in our children.

As a relative newcomer to the MRA community, one of the things that most profoundly impresses me is the wonderful and beautiful imaginations of our students. Whether it is on the playground creating fairy gardens and inventing new games, or in the classroom writing original poetry and reciting classic texts with flair and verve; our students impress me day after day with their creativity, joy, and originality. I see them listen to one another as they share the lunch, watch one another navigate a difficult move on the playing field, and comfort one another after struggling on a difficult test. They truly see one another because they are not bent over devices. They hear one another because they are not plugged into headphones. They love one another as Christ loves them because of the homes in which they are raised.

As Pope Francis observes, “In our own day, dominated by stress and rapid technological advances, one of the most important tasks of families is to provide an education in hope... finding ways to help them [children] develop their critical abilities and not to to think that digital speed can apply to everything in life” (Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 7, paragraph 275). At MRA we join with you in providing an education in hope, and a true appreciation of God’s perfect timing.  

Yours Truly in Christ,

Amy Sansone, Academic Dean