Kids and creativity

I forwarded a really interesting TED Talks video to my girlfriends with kids this week because it had to do with kids, but honestly makes some interesting points about society in general…and the animation was cool. Sir Ken Robinson lays out the link between 3 troubling trends: rising drop-out rates (in the US), schools’ dwindling stake in the arts, and ADHD. He is considered a creativity expert and he challenges the way that we are educating our children and proposes radical changes to education. His most famous talk in 2006 was called, “Schools kill creativity in kids” which is also really worthwhile if you have a few minutes over the holidays. He also wrote a really good book (which Steph can do a review about in a few days!) called, The Element, which is what he calls that point at which natural talent meets personal passion.

I don’t disagree with him that there could be serious changes to the way that we educate children, but I am curious about the idea of child development and the capacity to learn. We never cease to be amazed at how fast our kids learn and their ability to sponge up what is around them…even when we don’t necessarily want them to! When you are little, you seem to have unlimited creativity and imagination. Over time, it decreases, although I don’t think that schools are entirely to blame.

Seriously, when you are three, what do have to think about. You have no responsibilities, no concept of time, no social filter, and limited memories and experience. When something happens in your life, it is imprinted on your brain and affects your future thoughts and actions. It is called learning. In addition, in order to survive in civil society, children have to learn about filters. Unfortunately, it probably limits creativity to some degree. It is like their power of observation. Have you ever heard a child say, “What’s that sound?” You have no idea what they are talking about until you realize that far off in the distance, there is a sound of an airplane or the siren of an ambulence. They notice things more than we do because they have nothing else to think about.

When Bas is upset that someone (Willem usually) hits him I ask him what he can do about it other than cry. Among other ideas, Bas suggests using a laser to freeze Willem so that he can’t move anymore. Creative? Absolutely! Practical, maybe not so much.

I believe, not based on anything scientific at all, that our brain capacity is limited, or at least mine is. When I have to think about three problems that need solving at work, how to deal with Willem hitting Bas, what to make for dinner and what to wear to the party tonight, there isn’t as much room in my brain or time in the day to think as creatively as I could.

Perhaps it just means we need to allow a bit more time away from the daily tasks and responsibilities to give our brains more space to be creative. 

ps. Bas also used creative vocabulary building last night to describe what kitchen tool I was using to whiz up the peanut sauce. He claimed that I was using the “smoothie box”.


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