Friday, May 15, 2009

Created to be creative

We are a homeschooling family. As of yet, only Number One (and now* Number Two) are being formally homeschooled, but I am already beginning to see a serious issue with both our focus and the focus of our chosen curriculum. I believe that this issue exists in our public schools today as well. The issue is that creativity, or rather, the practice of thinking creatively and the act of creative discovery, is being overlooked and placed in a secondary or even tertiary position in relation to the the general gathering of knowledge.

Sir Ken Robinson, author of Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative and a well-known expert on education and creativity, spoke at the 2006 TED Conference about this subject. He believes that there is no way for us to prepare our children for the future without giving them the ability to be creative in their educational processes and allowing them to use their gifts as they move through those processes. The story he uses to illustrate the importance of seeing what our children can become is the story of Gillian Lynne as a young girl, being nearly diagnosed with something like ADHD. Gillian’s mother takes her to the doctor because Gillian cannot sit still and the doctor, very kindly, shows her mother that Gillian was made to dance, not sit. Gillian is now a renowned dancer and coreographer. He goes on to say that the education system of today is designed to produce one kind of individual: the university professor. University professors live in their heads (weighted to one side), not in their bodies, like Gillian does. Do we want our children ending up like a professor, or like Gillian? You can watch the video of Sir Ken’s talk on the TEDTalks website.

The thing is this: We are made to be creative. God implanted in each of us the creative spark. Every day we make choices that will either feed or starve the ember that we hold inside. Every day we make choices that can do the same to others in our lives. Look around you. Every physical thing you touch has been created, by either divine or human means. Do you want to extinguish such a power in the name of degrees and business and occupations? I doubt you do. Neither do I. So what’s person to do? I propose that it is time to take action and consciously choose to grow ourselves and our progeny creatively. Here is a short list of things you can do to begin:

  1. Set time aside for you and your children to be creative. There’s nothing formal required here, just put the paper and crayons down in front of your two-year-old. Better yet, sit down with your two-year old and draw and color to your hearts’ content.
  2. Point out great design, art, dance, music, nature, etc. to your children to make them aware of creation. No trip to the museum is necessary. Good design is as close as your local Target or BMW dealership. Art is everywhere. Put a Rogers and Hammerstein DVD in the player to enjoy great music and dance. Take walk and look, look, look.
  3. Read about great creators. “In the beginning…” Now that’s CREATION!
  4. Cook with your children. The act of creating a great meal or dessert is just as creative and inspiring as writing a poem or song. It is a process that requires preparatory thought and executional grace. Plus, you get to eat whatever you cook!
  5. Listen when your child says “When I grow up, I want to…”. You cannot overlook this fact: When we are young, our hearts have clearer visions of the future than our minds. When we are old, our minds attempt to control and manipulate the innate desire of our souls. Children transparently transmit their desires into the world. Do not, do not, crush their hopes.

*Originally written June 30th, 2006

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