Children are naturally excited by life. They love learning and discovery. So when did we as adults forget to be excited about life?
Today I purchased an exciting book for our two girls. It’s called “The Double Daring Book For Girls”. I had a similar book when I was a boy (many years ago) called “Hundreds Of Things A Boy Can Do”. I loved that book and made nearly every device and contraption in it. I dreamt of the things I was going to make the next day. So many exciting and pleasant memories from that book
The girls are on holidays at the moment and I am getting a little concerned about their excessive Nintendo and TV watching. My concern is that they have lost their curiosity and excitement for adventure and learning.
I purchased a sketch pad and some 2B and 4B pencils a few weeks back to combat this. I had them draw a picture of themselves. The pictures had all the characteristics of left brained thinking – just symbols of eyes, nose, mouth etc. – not the reality of what is before them. Next I had them reproduce a picture from a magazine, but this time I turned the magazine upside down. I told them to look at the relationships and the space outside the objects not the objects themselves. The results were a dramatic improvement.
There was a wonderful series on PBS called “The Creative Spirit” many years back that examined the nature of creativity – how it is manifested in children and in the workplace. There is also a book with the same title. It really helped me answer why our children lost some of their initial creativity and excitement and at the same time it offered a path to reclaim creativity.
We Are Naturally Creative
Creativity is really a child’s natural state. We can all remember kindergarten where we had “free spirit” to draw whatever we wanted. Time was no object as we were totally immersed in the now. Unfortunately at primary school art becomes a regimented 1 hour session in which we are asked to reproduce exact copies of art from famous masters. It is no longer fun and just plain demoralizing – what chance do we have to produce a replica of a famous masterpiece. The system has missed the point – our individuality and individual style is the real masterpiece.
What Kills Creativity?
Most kids love being in kindergarten. There is a natural excitement about learning, exploring and discovery. By the time high school comes this excitement and pleasure have vanished. Here are some of the creativity killers identified from “The Creative Spirit“.
Which ones can you relate to?
- Over-control – over-control kills originality by telling the kids exactly how things should be done
- Rewards – excessive prizes if overused deprives children of the intrinsic experience of creativity for and in itself
- Surveillance – constantly watching kids deprives them of the risk-taking aspect of creativity
- Pressure – overly high expectations of what a child is physically capable of – forcing them to achieve in things they have no real interest
- Restricting Choice – Limiting their curiosity, adventure and discovery
- Competition – win-lose situations were only one person wins rather than letting children progress at their own rate.
- Evaluation – teaching children to worry about what others think rather than enjoying the flow and bliss of their own creativity
I am sure we can all relate to one of these creativity killers. For me personally I think pressure and evaluation were the creativity killers and especially the pressure of time. With that thought I want to leave you with this wonderful quote.
“One ingredient of creativity is open-ended time. Children have the capacity to get lost in whatever they’re doing in a way that is much harder for an adult. Children need the opportunity to follow their natural inclinations, their own particular talents, to go wherever their proclivities lead them” `Ann Lewin Director of the Capital Children’s Museum in Washington,
What if anything killed your innate childhood creativity?