My partner had the headlamp unit off the car this weekend and was mending it on the table. I could see muck, oil, scratches being the result and possibly not even a fixed headlamp.
But when I looked beyond that, really looked at the unit, I saw something else. I saw the ingeniously creative mixture of materials and layers of design that had gone into making it and am left in awe as to how anyone could have possibly thought that all out.
We take this for granted every day. We take for granted that everything; every single thing, everything we use, everything that’s manufactured, every man-made thing that makes our lives easier has been designed by someone and is the result of someone having had the initial creative idea. We couldn’t possibly progress without creative ideas. Without creative thinking.
Yet creative pursuits are the ones that the government sees fit to squeeze out of the curriculum and classroom in favour of the academic.
And then we wonder why our young people are short of ideas or even unable to think things out for themselves. Because those skills develop from being creative.
To develop a rounded intelligence children need as much exercise in being creative as exercise in being academic.
This doesn’t just mean painting a picture which is how some interpret creativity. There are infinitesimal ways for your children to be creative beyond what you might at first think.
For example; rearranging a room is creative, constructional and imaginative play is creative (an earlier blog on creative play), recycling or customising requires being creative with the use of things, even thinking what’s for dinner or how to stretch the budget is creative. Your children can be creative far beyond painting a picture; be creative with print making (use potatoes or any veg/fruit, string, bottle tops, cut your own stencils from cardboard or plastic, use hands, feet, fingers, toes…?), make collages or 3D models, be creative with plasticine, pastry, play-dough, clay, packaging for model making, be creative and experimental with recipes (or foodstuffs in general – don’t always use them for food!) Get creative on the computer in paint or word or Photoshop if you’re lucky enough to have it. Get old stuff out and find a new use for it. Dismantle old things and see how they’re designed, use the bits for something else. Start with something familiar then take it to a new level by creating a completely different use for it. Take kids to creative venues, expose them to new and stimulating things.
All these creative experiences develop their intelligence but ironically also enhances their academic performance. That’s what’s so pitiful about the government devaluing creative activity because it improves academic success too merely by exercising the brain. If we keep squeezing creative activities out where are our designers going to come from? Where our entrepreneurs and new business, our new headlamps and technology, new inventions and new cures?
Being creative makes children think. It teaches them not to stop at the answer they first thought of – useful in exams! It teaches them to be resourceful – useful in life! It helps them overcome a fear of being wrong which gives them confidence. And it is confidence above everything else which is what’s needed for a happy, productive and successful life.