Do Parents & Educators Kill the Child’s Creativity?

Do Parents Kill Creativity of their Child?

I was faced with a situation recently that made me think about something very important. During a Christmas special class as part of the craft activity, we decided to make a pop-up Christmas tree with kids. Download the NutSpace App for the craft activity.

Children love craft work and of course there was a lot of buzz and excitement around the activity in class. The 3D model of a Christmas tree was not just fascinating but also brought with it a sense of accomplishment for the kids. The fact that they managed to ‘replicate’ the sample created by us with perfection.

However there was one quiet child in the group who refused to look at our sample tree. He played around with his tree for a while and then chose to flatten it down in 2D. And then, almost like a Eureka moment, he shouted aloud, ‘This is a man.’

He was jeered at by other kids, corrected even but he stuck to his stand. We as a team decided not to tell the child our point of view and instead applauded him for his imagination. The other kids too eventually began drawing parallels. They saw his perspective and then added their special something to their trees as well. This also turned into an extremely satisfying session.

Later when his mother came to pick him up, she asked him about the craft and he proudly told her that he had created a man. The mother was ballistic. She scolded him for being ‘dumb’ and that it wasn’t a man but a Christmas tree. She then approached the activity manager and expressed her dissatisfaction. She was clearly upset that we are not ‘teaching’ her child the right things. By the right thing she meant – we are not teaching her child to copy the sample properly.

6 Tips on How Not to Kill Your Child’s Creativity

This incident taught me a few important things:

  • We are killing the creativity of our children by teaching them to replicate
    1. Copy from the board / sample craft piece kills the imagination of a child
    2. Guide children, yes, and give them lots of ideas but encourage them too to ideate
    3. Whenever possible give them the freedom to create things without a reference image / sample
  • Everything created by children is a piece of art and should be appreciated
    1. Don’t snub them for creating something different
    2. Encourage them to talk about their piece of work and applaud them for their creativity
  • Eventually it is about relativity, isn’t it? We all have a perspective and point of view and we are all right.
    1. Now that I look at a Christmas tree, it does look like a man to me. I just never looked at it like that before.
    2. There are no rights and wrongs in art, craft and creative expression
  • Over control leads to poor decision making skills
    1. Constantly telling children how to do things often leaves them feeling like their originality is a mistake and any exploration a waste of time.
    2. Over controlled children cannot think critically and solve problems effectively.
  • Evaluating art and craft takes away from the satisfaction of accomplishment.
    1. Creativity is an outlet of self-discovery and expression. It’s not fair to grade children on creativity
    2. Unreasonably high expectations often pressurize children to perform and conform within strictly prescribed guidelines, and, again, not experiment, explore, and innovate.  

As parents and educators, let’s not be creative killers. Let’s look at the bigger picture. Killing or fostering creativity in our children is eventually our choice.

Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Here is a TedTalk given in 2007. It has been 10 years since then – but has anything really changed?

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