Creativity is an art of finding new ways of solving persistent problems. It is also, a process of bringing your imagination into reality. Every child is born a creative genius. This made children more creative than adults.
To them, everything is possible. At a tender age, the mind and thought pattern of children are better framed to iterate solutions to impending problems. Also, they utilize the full power of the brain without fear and criticism.
This I believe happens because they are not yet accustomed with our traditional education system. Rebecca Weicht is of the opinion that our traditional educational system dumps our creative genius within us because it does not value innovation and entrepreneurial thinking.
Creativity in children might be high because they have not yet learned the customs and traditions, and dos and don’ts of the society. As a result, they can easily think out solutions without considering its implications to the society.
Their way of thinking conforms with the saying of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “He who would be a man must deviate from existing standards.” This might be difficult for adults, but easy for children. Because at their stage, they are not yet accustomed with set standards.
With time, the creative genius in children begins to drop. George Land blamed this scenario to the industrial revolution which he believed led educators to develop schools (‘factories’) that manufacture people that could work in the factories.
Accordingly, to be creative, we must destroy or neglect laid down rules. We must neglect popular opinions. Our goal should be the result. According to Jack Kerouac, “Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.”
Teaching and learning in the 21st century are gradually transforming from traditional education to creative education. Creativity is gradually influencing worldwide educational policy to meet with the skills of the future workforce. Hence, the understanding of creativity will help us shape the future of our children in our homes and schools.
Albert Einstein once said that; “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge”. This statement is also true for the parents and guardians.
Why must we strive for creativity in our children?
The statement that children are more creative than adults is not a mere saying. It is backed up by a research conducted in 1968 by George Land. According to the study, the creative ability of 1600 children was tested. These children were tested at ages 5, 10 and 15 years. The same children when tested at these different ages, revealed astonishing results as follow:
- When at 5 years, 98% of these children were found to be creative.
- After the children were 10 years, it was discovered that only 30% of them were creative.
- When the children were 15 years, the study revealed that only 12% of them were creative.
- Finally, it was discovered that only 2% of adults, with the average age of 31 years, were creative.
Let’s look at the results at a glance.
|Ages||Years added||Creativity level||Loss of creativity||Cumulative loss||Remark|
From the table, it means that some children are 98% more creative than many adults. Also, after the age of 10 years, children tend to become less creative. The highest percentage loss of creativity occurs at the age of 10 years. At this age, many children begin their junior secondary education.
In general, there is a decreasing creative behavior in children as they begin to age. Hence, creative education is better at the elementary level. Also, if we must build a culture of creativity in our children, we must start before the age of 10years.
Implication of Results
This discovery might seem shocking, but it is a fact. It shows that we tend to lose our creative ability as we age. And this can be worsened by the absence of creative education. If we must be creative as adults, we must think like children.
According to Land, there are two types of thinking processes involved in creativity. These thinking processes are convergent and divergent thinking. Both affect creativity to a large extent.
Convergent thinking involves criticism, judgment of ideas, refinement of ideas and improvement of ideas. In order words in convergent thinking, one comes up with one good idea, which has been probably refined. This form of thinking occurs in the conscious mind and involves the combination of different kinds of thoughts.
Divergent thinking comprises imagination. This is basically subjective and brings originality, however, it is difficult and rough to come by. This form of thinking takes place in the subconscious mind. When utilizing this kind of thinking, one comes up with multiple ideas or solution to a problem.
Land noted that contemporary education teaches children to use both kinds of thinking at the same time. This he suggests is destructive, because it brings conflict and competition in the brain.
I believe this will eventually lead to loss of creativity as one age. This may be the reason why those who had a less formal education are more creative than those who are more educated. (Consider people like Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, and many more).
Land added that informal education, children are often judged, criticized and censored. And this usually leads to neurons in the brain fighting each other and eventually diminishes the power of the brain. He noted that creative thinking lights up the brain while people who operate under fear use less brain power.
According to George Land, it is better to allow children to split their thinking processes into various different states. He believed that this will make them more effective in learning.
Moreover, to make children retain their creative ability as they age, we ought to encourage them. We must allow them to express themselves and their ideas in speech and art. Our duty would be to help them evaluate and choose the best possible ideas.
Importance of Creativity for the Future
Developing the creative genius within entails consistent practice and innovative thinking in divergent ways. Through creative thinking, one can develop a new business model to drive sales of products and services, create new employment market to absorb the unemployed, and closeup the skill gap in the job market.
Some known sectors of business where creativity abounds include music, art, interior design, product design, and interior decoration. These sectors bring out the best in people as they strive to outperform their contemporaries.
Creativity opens a wide range of opportunities in different sectors, both for graduates and non-graduates. According to Diana Celella, Founding Director of The Drawing Room & President of SBID: “My advice to a young graduate would be to listen and learn from experienced designers. To be successful in the creative industries you have to be passionate about design, it is more than a job, it is all-encompassing. You need to live, love and breath design.”
In politics, creativity can help bring government closer to the people and ease decision-making process. It will enhance the mindset to generate new ideas for solving persistent problems develop solutions and implement them effectively.
Unleashing the Creative Genius
Creativity entails creative thinking, and research has shown that we are born creative. The popular question now is, how do we release this genius within?
Creativity is an inward desire to be better at something. It is the freedom to enshrine flexibility in your work. You cannot be or develop the skill you never desired.
We have already discussed the two common types of thinking – convergent and divergent thinking. From our discussion, we understand that creativity requires divergent thinking. This means to be creative, you must be a divergent thinker. You must generate multiple ideas or solutions when faced with a problem.
According to Robert Sternberg creativity is three-dimensional, namely analytical, creative and practical. He believed that creativity is a collaboration of experiences and adaptations. He looked at intelligence in relation to the individual’s approach to dealing with challenges.
He said that analytical intelligence refers to an individual’s ability to dissect problems and come up with possible solutions. Creative intelligence is an individual’s ability to deal with new problems using previous experience and skills. While practical intelligence refers to an individual’s ability to adapt to the changing world using practical experience.
This implies that to be creative, you must see new dimensions to a problem, generate ideas based on experience for solving the problem. Also, you must not be static. With your experience, you have to adapt to changes within your environment.
With her colleagues at Centre for Real-World Learning, Bill Lucas developed a five-model of creativity which can help in our creative journey. This model displayed below involves imagination, inquisition, persistence, collaboration, and discipline.
Finally, Howard Gardner developed a theory of multiple intelligence which he used to analyze individual’s intellectual abilities. According to Gardner, individual’s intelligence can be divided into eight types, which are based on specific skills. They include verbal, mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalistic.
Anyone who is willing to develop creative thinking and become creative should develop the core characteristics within each of these models.
The Conversation disclosed that creativity can also be fostered by connecting students with other cultures, groups, and organizations – both locally and globally. This could include connecting with schools and communities from around the world, understanding how to improve the environment, how new technology is being used to improve healthcare, how local farmers play a part in food production, or how new films and TV series are made.
In this era of self-driving cars, electric powered cars, reusable rockets, robotics, and artificial intelligence, should we still rely on the system of education set up to enlighten the workforce of the colonial masters? Should we trap the creative genius in us or in our children, which is crying for expression?
Being creative gives you more control. Control over your problems and that of others. When you have control over people’s problems, you can easily command their wallets.
Control will also give you more confidence even when a solution is not forthcoming. We must not leave this journey of creativity to a privileged few. We all should be part of the solution. Our children and children-children should be part of the solution.
How old are you? Are you gradually aging? The good news is that there is still a way out. That creative genius still lies within. Though aging has taken a reasonable portion of your creative genius, you can still turn on it on.
How do you do this?
Land suggested that you look inwards. Remember all those dreams when you were still young. Do you still think that it is impossible? It is time for you to challenge yourself. Do not be fixated on one solution. Come up with different ideas that will help you solve a particular problem.
Ken Robinson said, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” Creativity is not rigid. That is why George Land said, “Tomorrow, you take a table fork, turn your five-year-old on and come up with 25 or 30 ideas on how to improve on the table fork.”
Therefore, we must encourage creative education at all levels.
Do not underestimate your ability; do not underestimate the ability of someone either. We all are equal to the task. Let’s Begin this Journey today!