The idea of creativity being ‘educated out’ or just losing that spark of imagination as we age is common. We’d certainly support nurturing it in children in every way possible, but there’s debate on how this develops as we get older. Some studies actually show a boost and peak between our 20s and 40s. What we can agree on is that being imaginative and exercising creative thinking should be encouraged at all ages.
At age five, 98% of children test at genius levels of creativity. At 10, it’s 30%. At 15, it’s 12%. At adulthood, the average age of 31, only 2% of the US population hits the level 98% did when they were five.
That comes from the work of Beth Jarman and George Land. It’s no slap dash study. 1,600 kids tested at the Head Start programme, so many were disadvantaged. 280,000 adults tested.
It says a lot about the society we’ve created, but people whinging about the system don’t change it, so I won’t tread that path. Instead, let’s look at what this means for us parents. Here’s what I take from it. We all have creativity inside us, we just need to reconnect and practice it.
Children’s creativity is a thing to relish, to celebrate, to revel in. Adults who belittle, ignore, patronise or put down a child’s creativity aren’t ‘grown-ups’. They’re picking on someone weaker to make themselves feel better about the creativity they’ve lost.
We all have creativity inside us, we just need to reconnect and practice it
The school system and society at large will try to crush the creativity out of your children. Your child isn’t special. It’s not something that happens to other people. It happens to every single child. You can’t protect them from it, the attempts will be too many and too hard to spot, at times you will unwittingly be complicit in them. The only thing you can do is nurture your child’s creativity and confidence, to build their inner reserves, to be an outlet for their frustrations, and to bring calm, unconditional love to meet their anger and frustration that comes from feeling forced to do things they don’t want to.
We need to stay vigilant. We can’t fall into the trap that success looks like pleasing other people, that’s just blind conformity. Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir. Real success is them having the strength of character to confidently be their best selves. Good grades may be part of that, or not. Make sure you’re keeping your own score card, not someone else’s.
With the rise of the machines, creativity will be an increasingly valuable thing for people, our children included. Let us do what we can to keep it alive and burning brightly.