16 May 2005

Kindergarten Mind

Many folk assume that "creative people" are painters, musicians, artists and writers only. That view has changed dramatically in the past 40 years as scientists and educators have identified the basic elements of creativity, elements that virtually every person on the planet possesses.

Especially children. The abilities to question, make connections, perceive essence, accept reality, sidestep reality for a new vision, invert cause and effect, challenge accepted "rules," play for play's sake, express emotion freely (most importantly, to express emotion as related to physical actions) and take joy in exploration are key components of creativity. And as anyone who has spent time with toddlers and preschoolers knows, creativity abounds in them.

The main destroyers of creativity are parents and school. Parents seldom wreak their havoc on purpose, as their intention is to make sure their children are safe. Parents often curtail a child's creativity because it can be embarrassing, such as "invisible friends," "night horrors" or lying, or because it can lead to dangerous behavior by the child (excessive risk-taking in physical activities, use of alcohol, etc.)

But schools destroy creativity on purpose. The whole point of an incompetent school system--and that is what We have--is to teach children the power of one: one right answer, one fact at a time and one way of doing things. This "convergent" (to one point) way of thinking is precisely the opposite of creativity's "divergent" (expanding along many paths) thinking.

An excellent article on how parents--and The Jenius adds, teachers--can Encourage Creativity in Children is available here: http://www.accessnorthga.com/articles/afullstory.asp?ID=91422

Some excerpts, emphasis added:

• Relax and enjoy the creative process with your child. Children who are constantly directed to conform to expected outcomes lose the confidence and spontaneity essential for the development of creative thinking.

• Respect the child's efforts and let them know that you have confidence in their ability to do well. Let the child have both freedom and responsibility to deal with the consequences of their thinking.

Expose your child to a diversity of cultures, experiences, people, and ways of thinking. Let them see that there are different ways to think about a problem. Encourage children to try new experiences within their age level abilities and expectations.

There is plenty more excellent advice, but the excerpts are meant to convey that forcing conformity because of ignorance and a pathetic need for control, combined with insularist thinking (what some call "island mentality") will do more to harm Our Future than practically anything else We are doing or not doing.

The positive aspect is that We can control and change this situation. It requires action, takes time and effort and means We must leave Our comfort zone. The rewards are potentially so great that not making this investment is tantamount to damaging--or destroying--Our Future.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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