Much has been written about creative people and the success they enjoy because of their creativity. This creativity and the ensuring success is most often highlighted in the arts. However, it should be recognized that it actually occurs all around us in everyday life as people find new and novel ways to solve problems they perceive. Sure not everyone gets famous or rich from the problems they solve but in the end if it has made theirs or someone elses life better in some way.
So if creativity can occur anywhere, and I’d dare say for anyone, why do most people feel they are not creative or good problem solvers? To me the answer lies in that they have not been taught these advanced thinking skills either in the home nor at school. This deficiency is something that has now taken on new importance as education requirements are changing and the Common Core standards are being implimented. For eductors interested in learning more about proven creative thinking curriculum, tools and techniques I’d suggest they review the work of Dr Donald Treffinger at the Center for Creative Learning (CCL).
For parents I believe that they can nurture creative and innovative thinking by:
• Walking the Talk -take the time to read a bit about creative and problem-solving and use it in your own life and where possible explain it to your child.
• Interact and Play With Your Child – show younger children that there are solutions to difficult problems and issues through games, puzzles, fantasy and storytelling.
• Entwine Structure With Freedom – as most of us find out in life there is really no such thing as absolute freedom. Structure and laws are necessary foundations for freedom. However, this does not mean you should create a boring or overly structured life for yourself or your family. Allow some open time to do something you or your child wants to do. Old dogs can learn new tricks; younger dogs just learn them faster. In an interview with comedian Paul Mecurio, Paul McCartney reflected on the Beatles and that they kept things fresh, new and exciting because they hated to be bored and had a rich desire to show people new tricks. As such, each album was approached not with a formula for creating a hit, but instead as a new canvas they could use to experiment with. And yet he states how George Martin as the producer helped to provide the structure and guidance they needed to polish and complete their efforts. Even at 71 years of age McCartney strives to learn new things everyday.
• Love What You Do – In my 35 years of study of creative and successful people one theme is dominant and in the interview McCartney sums it up simply as “You gotta love what you do“. You can support this in your child by observing what they excel at and help them become even more proficient in that. All too often we focus just on what a child struggles with and forget what they naturally excel at or like to do. However, with the love comes work….
• Hard Work – Practice, study and work over long periods of time are necessary for success in any endeavour. A story titled “What it Takes to be Great” in a 2006 Forbes magazine states that numerous studies find that
The first major conclusion is that nobody is great without work. It’s nice to believe that if you find the field where you’re naturally gifted, you’ll be great from day one, but it doesn’t happen. There’s no evidence of high-level performance without experience or practice.
Reinforcing that no-free-lunch finding is vast evidence that even the most accomplished people need around ten years of hard work before becoming world-class, a pattern so well established researchers call it the ten-year rule.
• Support – Your child needs your support, attention and guidance especially in the early years of their lives. You need to give them the confidence they need to try new things and to think new ways that lead to the ability to adapt and excel in their lives. Without this confidence the talents tend to stay inside the individual and are not share for fear of failure or ridicule.
Remember creativity can be displayed on the playground, in the kitchen, in the workshop, in the garage, in the garden and on and on. It is not reserved for anyone individual and while higher socioeconomic status can assist, the lack of it should not be seen as a barrier. Love, work, recognition and support are the keys and as parents we can provide these to our children if we choose to.