Raché Rutherford

Growing creativity

In my previous article on creativity, I mentioned that most of us are born highly creative. The art (and the challenge for educators and parents) is to remain creative thinkers as we grow up. The child’s imagination is a wonderful world of creative opportunities. Children already see the wonderful shapes in the clouds; they believe the gnomes live at the bottom of the garden; they have long conversations with their invisible friend and can interchange between characters in their own play. Growing creative children should be easy – so why are there so many uncreative adults around?! I suspect one of the answers is that parents and teachers are so concerned with getting the best achievement and behavior from the child NOW, that the real task of education – shaping the whole child now while keeping in mind the adult we would like him/her to become – is often neglected. Those that are successful in the 21st century will have to grow and apply creative intelligence in this crazy world of change and new inventions. Here are a few tips on developing your child’s creativity: Encourage ‘what else’ thinking. In other words try to break the mould of ‘there is only one right answer or way’. Ask your child questions like: What else will work/ is possible?  Is there another way?  What else can we do with this? Creative people look for alternatives, find numerous possibilities and are willing to try ‘something else’. Be open to and encourage ‘unusual/quirky’ thinking. Challenge children to make mental leaps, to see beyond the ordinary. Do not find fault with or reject ideas just because you do not understand them or they are not what you expected. True creativity takes courage – don’t be the courage-crusher of a budding creative spirit! As the educator and parent, develop a spirit of praising instead of constant criticism. Our brain reacts to the messages it receives. ‘Don’t be so naughty; don’t be silly; you never listen; that’s just nonsense’ build blocks and barriers. Afraid of the criticism of not doing ‘the right thing’, we become uncreative and timid thinkers. This reminds me of a story of a family who lived in a region of the Karoo where they hadn’t had rain for a number of years. One night the father awoke with the rain pounding on the roof. Overjoyed with excitement he woke up his son...

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Creativity – myths and facts

Creativity – myths and facts

For my first blog I have decided to launch a series of articles on creativity, mainly aimed at parents and teachers. As a creativity trainer and designer of many creativity programs over the last twenty years I have seen and heard many misconceptions regarding creativity. So let me see if I can separate some of the myths from the facts. One of the fathers of creativity, Paul Torrance, was asked to develop a training program for the American Air force during the Korean War that would prepare pilots for extreme danger and circumstances and possible brutish treatment. After intense research, Torrance realised that the most critical ingredient for survival, is creative thinking. What do you associate creativity with? Drawing pictures or making cute cushion covers? This brings us to the first myth regarding creativity. Myth #1 – you have to be artistic to be creative Parents and teachers both tend to refer to ‘creative children’ as those who show artistic talent. So, those who can draw, play a musical instrument well or have a flair for the dramatic – they are creative! In truth, artistic talent is one corner of the large creative tapestry. True creative talent can be found in the ability to generate ideas, to make plans to get out of a fix, to improve something, to do it differently. When a group of children were asked to define creativity after they attended a creativity workshop, one said, “Creativity is singing in your own key”! By the way, there is no shortage of definitions out there. How about these for starters: Creativity is: Wanting to know; Taking risks; Being flexible; Seeing the flip-side; Challenging the ordinary/ the one right answer; Shifting paradigms; Looking at the world with fresh eyes? Myth #2 – you are either born creative or you are not Results of the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, show that 98% children up to the age of five who complete this test, score in the ‘exceptional creativity’ category. The message is clear – we are all born highly creative. The challenge for teachers and parents are to nurture and grow this natural ability. The same set of results, however, show that the opposite is happening. By age 10 only around 30% are still scoring in this category, by age 15, it stands at 10% and only about 2% of adults still manage this score. Somehow the...

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