Monday, July 12, 2010

How to be Creative

I read somewhere that a large proportion of successful writers spent part of their childhoods as invalids. The theory is that forced inactivity caused these children to live inside their heads and develop a rich imaginative life.

The one element that is absolutely necessary for the development of creativity is free time. Sadly, many middle-class American kids are starved for truly free time. Between homework overload and the constant competition to get into a "good" college, there is hardly any room for our kids to daydream, wonder, and follow their own interests.

That's why I can't get too excited about a recent Newsweek article called "The Creativity Crisis." After rounding up the usual suspects (TV, video games), and describing the usual "scientific" brain studies, it calls for more "creativity classes" in school. I fear that "be creative" is just one more chore that will be added to our kids' overloaded schedules.

True creativity is a mysterious, tender plant that requires free time and free mental activity. A great deal of what is needed for creativity looks like idleness. No wonder it's becoming so scarce in our cult of overwork.

1 comment:

  1. PsychMom says:
    I read the article and was happy to see the authors draw attention to the fact that the way we are teaching kids now effectively shuts down their ability to think well. But all the "brain" explanations as justification for jumping on the creativity bandwagon is not doing any service to children either. Project based learning is emphasized but the success or failure of a school still rises and falls on how the school does on the same old achievement tests.

    Why does there always have to be some improvement done....some "improvement in brain functioning", in this case? How is this creative training idea any different from the now debunked belief that stuff like Baby Mozart gave kids a leg up? There is nothing wrong with kids just as they are.

    I'm with you on that point FedUpMom...leave the kids and their brains alone and let them just have fun.