Inspire your kids to create…

In a rash and uninspired moment I signed up to a newsletter that’s supposed to keep you going when your motivation is as perky as a slug under a stone.

This month’s had this to say about children’s creativity:

A study at the College of William and Mary found that today’s children are less creative, less humorous, less imaginative and less able to elaborate on ideas than the kids who came before them. The study took into account about 300,000 creativity tests administered since the 1970s.

What’s the explanation? Is it the renewed emphasis on rote learning to pass standardized tests? Watching more TV? Spending more time online? Nobody knows for sure, but it’s an alarming finding, considering that these kids are going to require maximum creativity to clean up the mess we’re leaving for them.

(You’ll find details of the brainstorm bulletins this is from here: http://timetowrite.blogs.com/ )

I know it’s American but I think it’s just as relevant to UK children. Creativity, or the neglect of it in schools, was one of the deciding factors that convinced us to home educate.

People think that being creative is about being all arty-farty and not the road to a proper job. Shows how narrow thinking they are! Because it is creative thinkers who help the world progress, who find the problems to solutions. Creative minds which make scientific discoveries. People who think beyond the norm who make the most advancements – think Isaac Newton or Darwin, Stephen Hawkins or Richard Dawkins! And what about Judi Dench or Tracey Emin? What a contribution to our lives all of these people have made. And the quote above is dead right; it is the people who can think creatively who will be able solve the earth’s problems and counteract the damage our generations have done as well as enhance our existence aesthetically.

We all use creativity in our lives every single day; what to have for dinner, what music we listen to, through our clothes, what to put on Facebook!

But opportunities to develop creative thinkers are being so squeezed by our education system the creative blood is almost cut off and we’re in danger of ending up with sterile robots who can become qualified but haven’t two ideas to rub together to make a spark. Or an ounce of common sense as employers are complaining.

It’s something we really need to address both in schools but also as parents. And Jurgen Wolff, the author of the above bulletin, suggests this:

If there are any children in your life, give them presents that require them to exercise their imagination rather than just consume what others have created. For instance, a painting set, a chemistry set, and actual paper books that stimulate the imagination. Will some kids put these aside in favor of their new phone or iPad? Sure, but one day they may just pick them up and discover the joy of creativity. (I hear that my godson groaned when he saw I’d sent him a collection Michael Morpurgo books – but one day started reading them and became a fan.)

And if you’ve a chance to, I would add home educating to that!

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4 thoughts on “Inspire your kids to create…

  1. Excellent article, Ross. I’m going to forward this to my husband who is a brand new teacher. He’s looking for creative ways to engage his students in the classroom, and I think this will encourage him to continue.

    • Teens are tricky! There’s no doubt. You definitely feel that your influence is slipping away! But you are a naturally creative person Jane and I think kids are creatively inspired by the things we do – even though they try hard not to let it show – and they will return to those creative threads one day, I am sure! Very best wishes. x

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