Updated: Feb 2
What is creativity?
One way I define creativity is "the talent of identifying and expressing unique connections." Certainly, this can be achieved through visual, physical, or verbal means. Take a child on a road trip, and listen to her questions. Ask him to look out the window and share what he sees. Tell her to look for something she has never seen before. Ask him how it fits into what he already knows about the world.
In my Outschool courses, I work to bring new information, new frameworks to my learners. BUT it is their own actions and expressions that will connect facts with meaning. It will be they who must use the world around them to translate learning into creativity. And the most magical truth is that THEY WILL!
An adventure, a toy, a camera, a paint brush, an animal, a rock, a challenge, or an obstacle. This is the toolbox that children should have.
One of my favorite researchers on creativity is Scott Barry Kauffman. His quick explanation of creativity is “messy minds,”
So, how do we “teach” creativity?
Recall how the term “teaching” is a bit of an outdated goal. Instead, we must “facilitate.” Creativity may be facilitated just as it may be self-actualized. There are no time or space boundaries on creativity. It is part of an evolution. Thus, our educational opportunities must be places that offer tools and inspiration.
Lessons must offer autonomy. They must be open-ended. The antithesis of creativity is multiple choice.
Work must have meaning to the learner. Without strong connections, the learner does not have a foundation upon which to explore creative extensions and expressions.
Relationships, movement, exploration, and play are all necessary and undervalued tools of building a creative mind. Therein learners experience novelty. Additionally, these activities require physical and emotional work that activate other parts of the brain.
I often observe how far we have moved away from these hallmarks of creativity; however, the truth is that it is foundational to the human experience. Its expression is woven into our lives’ purpose. And, though we can neglect it and postpone it, we will be unsettled until we release it.
Pushing our children (or offering them space) to create is a gift that will enrich their lives and offer them freedom. The same process of fostering creativity also develops confidence, promotes happiness, solidifies work-ethic, and cultivates identity. As educators and parents, we have a duty to prepare our children for successful futures.
Exploratory travel replaces the rote with the creative.
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