Celebrating our creative thinkers: Why aren't we talking about this more?

Posted on 09 July 2024

In a world that often focuses on shortcomings and challenges, it's inspiring to see New Zealand's 15-year-olds achieve remarkable success in the realm of creative thinking. According to the latest PISA 2022 results from the OECD, our young Kiwis have placed in the top five globally for creative thinking. This is a significant achievement and a testament to the innovative spirit that permeates our education system and culture. So why isn't this news making the headlines?

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a global measure of 15-year-olds' abilities in reading, mathematics, science and, for the first time in 2022, creative thinking. The results showed that New Zealand's students are not just proficient but even excel in creative thinking, placing them among the top five countries globally (alongside Korea, Singapore, Australia and Canada). This accomplishment highlights the strength of our educational approaches and the innate creativity of our youth.

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Creative thinking is a critical skill in today's world. It involves thinking outside the box, developing innovative solutions to problems and adapting to new situations. These skills drive technological advancements, solve complex global challenges and foster economic growth. New Zealand's high ranking in this area suggests that our students are well prepared to meet future demands.

So why the silence? Despite this outstanding achievement, there seems to be a lack of widespread discussion and celebration. Several factors might contribute to this silence. Firstly, the media often gravitates towards negative news, which tends to garner more attention and emotional engagement from audiences. Reports about declining educational standards or economic challenges, as real as they are, should not overshadow positive stories about student achievements.

Creative thinking is a critical skill in today's world. It drives technological advancements, solves complex global challenges and fosters economic growth.

It is also likely that there is a lack of awareness or understanding about what the PISA results signify. The emphasis on creative thinking as a measure of success is relatively new, and its importance might not be fully recognised by the public and policymakers. We are still caught up on measures such as writing, reading and basic literacy.

While reading and writing are fundamental skills that remain crucial, education systems must strive for a balanced approach that also prioritises other essential skills and disciplines. By broadening the focus beyond traditional literacy, we can better prepare students for the diverse challenges and opportunities of the future.

It's time we shift our focus and start celebrating the achievements of our young people. Highlighting their success in creative thinking can inspire confidence and pride in our education system and encourage further investment in nurturing these essential skills. By sharing success stories, we can create a more balanced narrative that acknowledges the challenges and the triumphs.

The outstanding performance of New Zealand's 15-year-olds in the PISA 2022 creative thinking assessment is a milestone that deserves our attention and celebration. As we navigate through various challenges as a nation, it's crucial to recognise and promote the positive aspects of our society. Aotearoa was once recognised for its Number-8 wire approach to challenges. It allowed us to punch well above our weight and gain respect when we might have fallen into insignificance.

Let's start talking more about these positive achievements and give our young creative thinkers the recognition they deserve. They are not just the future of Aotearoa — they are the present and their success is a beacon of hope and inspiration for us all.

For more details on the PISA 2022 results, see the OECD PISA 2022 report.