You’ve probably already heard that encouraging our kids to be creative thinkers is a must to help them cope with our fast-changing, technology-driven world.
There is evidence all around us of human jobs becoming obsolete as technology takes over and changes our very way of living.
Creative thinkers will have the edge over others because they embrace, even instigate, change. That means they can adapt faster and move forward while others are still getting used to the latest development.
So what is a creative thinker and how do you become one?
Anyone can become a creative thinker. It is not a special talent given to a privileged few. You could argue it isn’t even a skill, as skills require technique. Creative thinkers tend to break the rules and make new ones – creating new techniques.
Creative thinking is an ability that can be learned and nurtured.
A creative thinker has the ability to see connections between things that appear to be completely different.
This ability allows them to come up with unorthodox solutions, create alternatives and see possibilities.
WHY MAINSTREAM SCHOOLING AND CREATIVE THINKERS DON’T MIX WELL
Some of the characteristics of creative thinkers make it impractical for educators to fully embrace those traits.
Creative thinkers can come across as uncooperative as they suggest different ways of doing things, challenge and question rules and refuse to conform.
For teachers charged with educating up to 30 students in a classroom, these traits can disrupt the class, slow the learning process and sometimes create safety issues.
To compensate, teachers impose rules and it is, in part, those rules that stifle creative thought.
In order for students to achieve the academic standards expected, teachers focus on conventional thinking that leads to one correct solution. This is the opposite of the divergent thought process used by creative thinkers.
Many studies have shown that children’s creativity tends to decrease with age, most significantly from kindergarten the Grade 3.
HOW TO RAISE CREATIVE THINKERS
So what can you, as a parent, do to promote creative thinking in your children?
There are several things you can do with your child to counteract the effects of mainstream education on children’s divergent thinking abilities.
- Encourage children to regularly spend time on creative pursuits. The process of creating offers challenges that require finding, sometimes unusual, solutions.
- Get them to try new things. Your child may be passionate about drawing but that passion could be more about the fact that drawing is all he/she has been exposed to. Encourage your child to try different types of creativity such as building things out of recyclables, using nature finds to create art, playing with different materials like plaster and clay.
Parents often tell me how much their child loves to draw when they enrol them in Wacky Workshops. While we go through the basic elements of art and play around with various drawing techniques, I make sure to offer the students opportunities to create a host of other things. Even the most dedicated and talented young drawers become excited when they realise that art has so many different forms and drawing is only a small part of that.
- Promote curiosity with questions that start with, “I wonder what would happen if we…”, “What do you think we could use to….”
Curiosity is the engine of achievement.
Education expert Ken Robinson
- Encourage them to explore and test things and make mistakes. Mistakes are wonderful learning tools and those unafraid of making them are more willing to try new things.
- Foster your child’s imagination with storytelling games and even simple fun like cloud watching and picking out shapes.
- Help them to see possibilities.
RAISE CREATIVE THINKERS – A LITTLE EXERCISE
I have an exercise I love to do with my Wacky Workshops students.
I show them a simple trick to draw a flamingo.
- Start by drawing the number two towards the top of your page.
- Follow the top of the two shapes with a line underneath until the curve at the bottom when you’ll take the line straight across to form the bird’s body.
- Draw a back-to-front four directly under your bird shape to create legs.
- Little triangles at the ends of the legs make feet.
- Add the beak and eye and colour the background.
When they are finished with their drawing I ask them what we could use to make the body of the bird 3D.
I sometimes strategically place pink bows, flowers and nylon mesh shower scrubbers around the workshop. It’s interesting to see what the students choose. Some will choose just one thing. Others will choose all of the obvious things and come up with other ideas as well such as scrunched up paper or air dry clay with feathers stuck in.
RAISE CREATIVE THINKERS WHO SEE POSSIBILITIES
The exercise helps them see the various possibilities beyond a simple drawing.
It’s for that reason I keep a selection of arts and crafts on display in the studio. New students walk with a certain look on their faces. The expression is one of possibility.
The kids look around at example arts and crafts and become excited at the creative possibilities.
Some will exclaim wonder at the transformation of some cardboard rolls into a castle, the plastic bottle that becomes a fun game or the magical “Harry Potter” style moving pictures made from cardboard.
All of them ask questions. Who made this? When was this made? How many people made this? Can I make one of these?
Children often need a little guidance to kick-start their creative thinking process. You could help your child find possibilities at home by looking at pictures of homemade things and discussing how you would do it differently – colour scheme, materials used, design.
A WACKY CHALLENGE
Another great exercise is the ‘Wacky Challenge’. Choose a couple of random items such as an old CD, some string and some buttons and ask the child what they think they could make with those. If your child can’t come up with anything, offer a few suggestions then ask if they can think of anything else. Be sure to keep it light. If your child still can’t come up with anything, encourage them to make one of your suggestions. This takes the pressure off and gives them the confidence that will lead to discovering their own ideas.
If they do have their own ideas, back off and let them run with them – even if you don’t think they are good ideas. Part of the creative process is brainstorming and being open to anything – no matter how ridiculous it might seem.
A few years ago the idea of driverless cars seemed quite ridiculous. Now it’s a happening thing.
Visit The Wacky Workshops Page and check out my Wacky Challenge. I will post a new one each month – usually at the start of the month. There are prizes to be won!
Happy crafting and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.