Innovation Management

Are We Crippling Our Kids’ Creativity?  The Dilemma and a Solution

By Shlomo Maital

  Everybody knows the most creative nation in the world is the nation of five-year-olds.  Small children have not yet learned the ‘rules’, what is possible and real, and what is not. So in their world, everything is real, everything is possible. As a result, their imaginations run wild.  Then we send them to Grade One – and methodically we stamp out their imaginative powers. And we buy them games and toys and show them TV shows and movies where everything is incredibly real, in each detail, leaving no room for the imagination.

    Here is what one of my blog readers, Anne Marie, from Singapore, notes about her own childhood:

    I actually grew up in the Philippines, and growing up with just the basics, as a child I didn’t have the privilege to have so many toys and technology before in a third world country is not even starting. But I am glad I did (and not even spoiled by my parents with all these toys) – it is because, I could clearly recall that I was only given a ball, a stick and some elastic bands, and from these three I was able to create hundreds of games with my   playmates. I remember my childhood was so much fun. Now, I can see my nieces and nephews stuck in their computers, playing in a virtual world, but not an ounce of creativity at all! I sometimes shut their computers to test, and give them the basics… but how very minimum is the number of games that they can think of! But I am not giving up. A young mind is easier to train, so we will wait and see….

Thanks Anne Marie! There is a solution.  Purposefully choose your children’s toys and games and spare-time
activities, to foster imagination.  There are still many such games available.  If you wish, make your own toys, out of cardboard and paper and sticks.  Challenge them to create things, rather than prefer things that are already created.  And when your child comes home and says he or she solves an arithmetic problem in an unusual way, and got a big red X on it from a rigid teacher – tear a strip off the teacher and the teacher’s principal, and tell them about why you think children should be encouraged to be creative, rather than have their creativity doused by thoughtless in-the-box taskmasters.

    It is not inevitable that kids should lose their creativity in school.  This process can be stopped. But to do so it not easy.  Take up your responsibility as a parent, and spring into action, before it is too late.