Creative thinkers and doers have shaped our world’s history and contributed to the future direction of the human race for centuries. Find out what the link is between boredom and creative thinking.
Long before formal schooling, children and young adults followed their passions and used their talents in order to create some of the various masterpieces, technological advances, literary works and musical pieces we know of today.
Mozart made his song-writing debut at age 4; Pascal, famous for Pascal’s theorem, wrote his first theory at age 16; Picasso painted Picador at age 8; and Tiger Woods won the Junior World Golf Championships 2 years below the age group he was entered in.
The point? That creativity, problem-solving, abstract thought is available from early on in our children’s lives. It grows by being fostered, encouraged, supported and allowed to happen.
Current education policies are having a big impact on the way in which children’s creativity is fostered in the school system. With a primary focus on numeracy and literacy skills, teachers are finding it more difficult to put equal time and thought into activities and lessons that encourage creative thinking and problem-solving.
While it could be argued that creativity and problem-solving can be intertwined with literacy and numeracy skills, the reality is, in practise there’s simply not enough time in the school day to allow children to follow their own independent passions.
So cue the parents!
How can you support your child’s interests and passions in order to allow them experiences to foster potential creative bents they may have?
Some may argue that for the child who demonstrates a natural rhythmic talent the first port of call is the local dance studio. Or a child who has a love of music – sign them up to the nearest music teacher. A child with natural sporting ability – buy the best coach in town.
But the reality is, if this occurs too early on in a child’s exploration of their passion, the sure-fire result will be to kill it in its tracks. Sometimes our exuberance to support a potential talent in our children can in fact do the very opposite. Simply take the fun right out of it.
When boredom strikes, creativity takes over
The best strategy we can adopt as parents and caregivers to aid in the growth of our children’s creativity is to slow the pace down.
Allow time. Creativity takes time.
Avoid overscheduling our kids. Give them down time and therefore their own ‘think’ time. If you have a potential artist in your family, have a box of paints, a big old sheet and a space on the lawn outside for them to go crazy with a canvas.
If you have a musician, load up a playlist with a variety of genres of music – from Beethoven to the Chilli Peppers – expose them to music, without the rigidity of practice and learning. Allow them to dance in the lounge without an audience. If they are truly passionate about learning their craft – they will motivate themselves to do so when they’re ready.
Allow children to be bored. This is ok. Boredom will inevitably give way to new ideas, thoughts, creations and ultimately master pieces.
There is also a wide array of tools and resources available to parents these days that espouse to aid in developing your children’s creative style. These can be often very expensive.
Children do not need fancy equipment to be creative. The equipment does not need to be expensive.
Collect recycling boxes, plastic bottles, sellotape, paints, colouring pens, cardboard tubes, plastic bags. Kids will learn to create using whatever is around them. While it may not be a masterpiece in its recycled form – the result is the thought process behind it. The process of creating art is far more important than the product itself. And often as adults we wait for the final product – the grand masterpiece.
When in fact, this is far from important for the child themselves. The process has itself grown the creative ability of your child.
So while we may not have future Mozarts, Pascals, Picasso’s or Woods in our family midst, all children need creative skills in order to face the world ahead.
Back in our parent’s day, it was inevitable the employment they started out in would generally be the one they retired in. But our children now may very well be employed in jobs that haven’t been invented yet, or that have a limited shelf-life before making way for new roles in response to new technologies.
Creativity gives our children the ability to be flexible, resilient and responsive to the world around them. As parents, we need to recognise the importance of this skill, and foster these abilities in a natural and responsive way.
Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it’s produced the most extraordinary results in human culture – Sir Ken Robinson.