Creativity will save the world!

Creativity….the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination.

A bold claim but one I believe is true. Undoubtedly other skills and knowledge will come into play when it comes to finding real solutions to meet the needs of people and the planet in the fragile future our children face but creativity will be vital. Our kids will have to be innovative independent thinkers with the capacity to think critically and outside the square. They are going to have to be able to come up with solutions to alleviate the very worst of climate change and a world where the divide between the very rich and the very poor continues to widen beyond all sense.

I personally am choosing not to be utterly freaked out by this so don’t think I am filled with despair. On the contrary I am filled with aspiration. I admit I am by no means an expert on creativity. I have a passion for it because I see the need the world has for it and I also see the benefit for children when they are allowed to freely develop their own creative voice and perspective. 

I am choosing to be part of a growing movement of teachers and parents around the world who want to see kids given the opportunity to really explore and develop their own innate creative capacity. Finland, with its education system that allows time for play all day. Go Finland – we need that in New Zealand at all ages not just for early childhood and new entrants to primary school! Denmark, with its outdoor Kindergartens, that allows children to learn to use sharp knives and climb flimsy trees because the kids are allowed to take risks and are given the chance to assess what they can and can’t do in their own time. New Zealand, with its growing movement of play based learning in Primary Schools and that zenith of child-led, play based philosophy for early childhood education, the Playcentre movement.

There are big reasons why we need to foster creativity in children but it is also valuable for so many other reasons. A child consciously supported to follow their own passion and left to devise how to do something for themselves can be a source of constant wonder and surprise to the watching parent or teacher. We get something out of it too! One of my nieces developed their interest in drawing unhampered by adult direction. No-one told her how or what to draw. She was instead encouraged to draw from her own perspective. One day when she was six she drew a swimmer in the ocean. It was a beautiful image of the shoreline with two arms rising above the water mid stroke. Just a subtle shape of the body seen gently above the line of the water and that was it. It was a stunning picture, one that surprised and delighted us all. She is sixteen now and interested in other things but I have never forgotten that picture.

It was an image we would never have seen had she been directed by adults around her in HOW she should draw. Instead she was left to explore her interests facilitated by rich resources - the pens and pencils and paper available to her when she wanted them and the result was something no-one could have taught her because we might have never seen it in the same way.  It was a picture that was unique to her view of the swimmer in the ocean. It was vital, organic and original. If her parents had told her how to draw this or anything else for that matter we would have all missed out on something very special indeed. Something that has touched my life in a beautiful way - thanks Ishka!

Nurturing creativity begins straight away. I believe all children are innately creative. I am not talking about just drawing or painting although that is just the first thing we often think of when we think of when we think of creativity but the way children are so amazingly alive with ideas and imagination from the very beginning. They are born curious about the world around them and already deeply interested to hear, see, smell, touch and yes, taste absolutely everything they can. It’s the best way for babies to learn their about the world so let them taste it parents!

Protecting their capacity to be creative and develop their own innate perspective of the world around them takes a conscious decision from the adults in their lives too. I followed the Playentre philosophy around play and creativity and it influences how I raise my kids on a variety of levels. The Playcentre artistic philosophy is greatly informed by the ideas of Pennie Brownlee. Reading her book ‘Magic Places’ is a great place to start if you are interested in ensuring children’s unique artistic creativity is fostered.

You can find it here http://www.goodeggbooks.co.nz/ I didn’t follow everything but the general gist really resonates with me. Things I love - not drawing for your kids, not telling your kids what to draw or how to draw something, drawing beside them but only at their level of ability as to not squash their burgeoning confidence in their own capabilities, ways to talk with children about their art that develops their self-expression and verbal literacy, avoiding a steady diet of colouring in-books (more on those later) and the all-important – valuing the learning in the process not the product (although I love the product too naturally).

I have million things to say……there’s a lot more to come. Thanks for checking The Creative Kids Collective out. I would love to hear what you think so feel free to comment and share your thoughts about creativity. x


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