I believe all children are born creative. I also believe that creativity can only thrive when it is cultivated and so few children receive the necessary cultivation to maintain their naturally creative spirits. The irony is the cultivation is not always experienced in the manner traditionally held. Privilege isn’t necessarily the most valued commodity where creative cultivation is concerned. Sometimes it’s challenge. I believe children crave the excitement creativity engenders in their spirit and I believe this because I work with children who have very little of what today’s affluent and technological world offers. These children are often dependent on their creativity for their very survival. To see them tackle a problem is a thing of beauty because it illustrates my basic belief that all children are truly born creative.
As education becomes more about how well you do on a standardized test and less about how creatively you solve a problem, I believe children begin to value “the gold star” more than the “golden idea”. With a world shrinking day by day because our connection to it is so enabled by the internet, one would think children’s creativity would explode! But instead, I believe we have created a generation of children who depend on the internet for the genesis of their ideas rather than as a tool to expand them. We bombard our children with our ideas of what is important and leave them little room to develop their own. Their lives are formatted much like we format our computers, to deliver a predetermined product, the well rounded, ambitious and precocious child. It is in this over-concern for perfection that I believe we err in the area of stimulating our children’s creativity. I’ve worked with many fellow parents on student projects that quickly became parent projects because their ultimate goal was perfection rather than child learning. Instead of letting the child try, possibly fail, and learn from the failure, we are too caught up in our own need to succeed to let the child experience the success inherent in simply learning.
So I continue to believe that all children are born creative. We simply need to allow positive challenges in their lives to ensure the cultivation of their creativity.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.