Growing creativity

Growing creativity

Posted by on Aug 8, 2014 in Creativity and education

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 who had never seen rain, and lead the bleary-eyed boy to the window. ‘See that – that’s rain running down the window!’ The boy stiffened and cried, ‘But I didn’t do it!’

As educators and parents we have a wonderful opportunity, but also a crucial responsibility to equip our children for the challenging but exciting experience of growing up in the 21st century.

Kahlil Gibran said, ‘You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.’ Amongst others, those arrows should be filled with a creative spirit.

Watch this space for more tips for developing creative behavior.

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