Written by Leon Golden
Creativity is becoming a major key to success in today’s workplace. Many modern careers require employees to step outside the confines of their formal education, and embrace a more interdisciplinary approach to problem solving. Unfortunately, the innate creativity and curiosity of childhood is generally squelched by the time the child reaches adulthood. Many have made the observation that formal educational systems worldwide were designed for industrial societies. Education author and speaker Ken Robinson has said that “our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip-mine the earth: for a particular commodity.” So the question is posed here, how can we foster creativity in ourselves and in our children?
Rather than yielding to despair, let’s be creative and take a more divergent path; where we are is often the framework within which we must work.
• Emphasize the process, not the product. It’s increasingly important that people be taught not what to think, but rather how to think.
• Encourage exploration and play. Engaging an individual’s innate curiosity aids in the development of the mind and imagination.
• Be observant of the world and nature. Encouraging thoughtful observation helps develop capacity for divergent thinking by making connections that may not initially be obvious.
• Encourage reading. Studies have shown that reading fiction helps to expand the reader’s imagination; reading nonfiction helps to broaden the reader’s perspective of the world.
While not an exhaustive list, these ideas will help to exercise the “creativity muscle” in our brains. Research in neuroscience and cognitive psychology has shown that the brain is highly plastic and can change for the better, regardless of age. While a child’s impressionable mind is easier to form, we can all benefit by fostering an environment of creativity, curiosity, and wonder.