Pardon me for getting a little serious and introspective but . . .
Jordan at MommaBlogga asked me about how I find fulfillment in motherhood and my first thought was "creativity." To me, motherhood is the ultimate creative endeavor, where else does one make and nurture something with as much potential as a human being? But next to my four little masterpieces, otherwise known as Grace, Spencer, David and Lillian, I find creativity critical to my sense of well-being. I have to have a project, have to be working on something, have to be looking toward the next thing I can produce.
I found a couple interesting things around the blogosphere lately for your perusal. They're not short so you'll need some time (about 15 minutes for each video clip) but they're thought-provoking and entertaining. I wouldn't give you something that was a waste of time would I?
First, here is a presentation by Sir Ken Robinson entitled "Do Schools Kill Creativity?" that is not only funny and worth seeing for the entertainment alone but it's an interesting argument for public education reform. Robinson says that the purpose of public education has changed since its birth during the Industrial Revolution and should be shifted to meet society's new needs. He argues "creativity is as important as literacy and should be given the same status" and that a child's natural creativity must be encouraged in ways that the current system is unable to provide.
I like his position that creativity isn't just about artistic endeavors, it's about creating something new and that stigmatizing mistakes (and we're talking ideas here, not morals) crushes creativity but let's be honest: though dance and the visual arts may be beautiful can they really be compared to science and mathematics when talking about the greater good? Just because there may be a lot of would-be Rembrandts out there do we really have a responsibility to nurture the humanities equal to the sciences?
Second, here is a video by Larry Lessig called "How Creativity Is Being Strangled by the Law" which is also funny and engaging--get a load of his presentation techniques and watch in awe. His points are that creativity is a natural human desire and the law is at variance with common sense by regulating intellectual property to death. Though I warn you, he has three remixes included with the presentation--two of which are hysterical--but one goes past irreverent and dives right on into being religiously offensive though it makes the point for his case.
Now here are my thoughts:
The first video goes after public education, the second video goes after the government--both fine targets I'm sure--but I tire of the blame game. Public education has to have parameters, must have ways of measuring and calculating success, so to criticize this system of tests and grading seems futile. Maybe in utopia you can say to a child "Your dancing was brilliant, just as brilliant as if you'd discovered the cure for cancer" but for now it won't fly in our supply-and-demand, nine-to-five economy and it's time to get over it.
Yes, I agree the government is straining at gnats and I have absolutely no sympathy for the entertainment industry's constant whining about copyright infringement but that's only one small area of influence. Teaching creativity needs to come from the top down and when I say the top I mean the home.
Public education and government aren't the solutions because learning and creativity start in the home, parents are a child's first connection to this process. It's not just the schools that should be thinking about this, it's parents. So how do we do this?
It's not about running kids to more after-school activities (goodness we have an abundance of that already don't we?) or about pushing children to get better grades (grade inflation and the pressures to score high do plenty to raise the fear of being wrong in kids today) it's about teaching problem-solving skills, independence and courage.
Unfortunately parents do too much for children nowadays, acting more like personal secretaries, chauffeurs and maids for their children than educators and parents and until we can let go and allow our children to do things for themselves--including making mistakes--they're not going to find more creativity and schools will face the same issues, business will stay in the same rut and government will debate the same topics. Perhaps creativity isn't about more but about less: less over-scheduling, less micromanaging, less hovering. But then what do I know? I'm not a Stanford professor or a British knight who can influence thousands--but I am a mom and I can help the four I've got.
What do you do to feel creative? How do you encourage it in others or in your children?
One more thing: here's a series of posts from Mark McGuinness about organization's affect on creativity found through Liz Strauss at Successful Blog and worth your time.
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