Children today have access to sophisticated technology that allows them to interface with a world which may no longer lie within their own homes or their immediate environments.
Their mobiles and computers allow them to reach far beyond their personal environments. Knowledge in all its forms is instantly available and their skills at accessing it, are formidable. BUT DOES THIS MAKE THEM CREATIVE?
Why do we want children (or ourselves as adults for that matter), to be creative? Is there a place in today’s world for creative people? Are creative people really necessary?
There is so much entertainment available, so much of everything available to us, so much to do, so much access to friends (and strangers) on the internet. Our lives are full to the brim with the choices we have. Are we happy with this? Is it enough? If it is enough, then there is no need to even pretend we care about ‘how children interact with their world in creative ways’. Why do we still even say the word ‘creative’? Maybe as a teacher, it is in the curriculum outcomes. Maybe as a parent, we would like the best for our children and creativity sounds like it is important. So, do we need to be ‘creative’ as well?
What does ‘Creative Ways to Interact with the World’ actually mean?
What do we mean by creativity and why do we seek it for children?
We maybe think it means that children will be able to self motivate; to be involved in things they produce; to be able to produce things that are unique to themselves; things that are original and they want to own with confidence, pleasure and joy. Maybe it will enrich their lives?
Is colouring in other people’s images creative? Maybe the colouring could be.
Is playing games on the computer creative, when all the outcomes have been programmed in by someone else?
Is being entertained creative? Maybe – if the entertainment contains challenges that involve the child in their own original thinking. Does this happen in the entertainments we provide?
Ask yourself if in the past 24 hours, or in the last week, whether your children (or yourself) have been involved in any truly creative activity.
Do I interact with my world in creative ways and what does this mean
Think about it. Ask yourself, Do I? How do I do this? When do I do this? Am I creative at work? Am I creative in my spare time? Am I creative with my children? What do I mean by ‘being creative’?
Being creative in any way can mean doing something that is new, exciting and joyful. It means creating something new that you have not created before or producing something that is unique to ourselves and an expression of ourselves. We are not talking world shattering inventions. We are talking the young child who finds for the first time, that mud can be formed into a shape. We are talking the older child who finds that the information acquired on the Internet can be used as a starting point for a work expressed in their own unique way. We are talking about the grandmother who has been knitting all her life and suddenly uses those skills to make a colourful and textured something, something uniquely her own. Ask yourself, what is the last creative thing you did or made?
What can we do as parents and teachers to encourage creativity?
When children are allowed to spend a lot of time in front of TV, or at the computer, this is certainly filling time – their minds involved with whatever – and sometimes we need them to be occupied by themselves as we find some time for ourselves in this racing world. However, children are not only a mind. They are bodies – bodies that need to interface with their worlds, through their senses. They need to smell, taste, touch, hear, listen, and they use their bodily senses to do this. The world of technology can isolate children from using most of these senses. This isolation does not encourage them to create. This world of chatter (words, music, games,) fills them up.
So, how do we help them interact with their world in creative ways? Certainly not by stopping them using technology. That is not an option. Progress happens. Technology is a part of their world, but it is only one part and it is our role as parents and educators to show children it is only one part.
Now comes the hard part : Our own lives are also full. How do we provide the necessary space and time to allow creativity into their (and our) daily lives?
There is little point in adding ‘creative activities’ to an already full agenda. We might begin with the best intentions but life itself will very quickly catch up and force us to let go of all our good intentions. Therefore what are we to do? How can we help children (and ourselves) interact with our world in creative ways?
It is very easy to allow young children to be creative – they already are. Everything they do is new and exciting to them. They use all their senses as they explore the world around them. They draw spontaneously – and then – someone gives them a colourin-in book that is filled with drawings done by someone else. Slowly the exploratory, fun (and might we say CREATIVE) approach to life beings to change. “I can’t draw” often follows. This unique child who had a go at anything and produced amazing things they were so proud of, slowly learns that they are not creative, as they are ‘taught’ that they need someone else to do their drawings. ‘Show me how’ they say. ‘You do it for me’. ‘I can’t—–’! How incredibly sad is that?
What should now follow, is a list of ‘how to make children interact with their world in creative ways’. But lists and examples are out there in thousands, in books and on the Internet. The information is readily available. But information alone is not enough. We adults need to look at our own lives first and ask ‘how do or how can I, interact with my world in creative ways’? If we take time to think about this, evaluate the implications of this question, take time to begin the process for ourselves, maybe we will be able to answer the original question ‘How do children interact with their world in creative ways?’. Maybe then we will make a life change in such simple ways that will allow creativity in; as a part of how we live; allowing a different and creative approach to the activities that fill our lives. The decision is – do we really want to be creative?