Creative Kids

By Martin Gilliard

In thinking about creative kids, most children have a lively creative streak, some are endowed with outstanding creative promise. But the teaching they get at school and the training they get at home tend to suppress creativeness. Yet it is a precious quality that, if developed, can make the difference between a routine life and a life of distinction and great satisfaction.

How do you spot "creativity"? Can you measure it with a test? No, not the way you can measure the ability to get good marks in school. Tests have been devised, it's true. But they're still experimental and tentative—and no one is sure that the qualities they do measure are the same as creativity. In fact, no one is clear on what creativity is.

a creative kid

(Photo Credit Flickr D'Arcy Norman)

From experiments and studies made so far, there's a general assumption that the following characteristics probably indicate a creative youngster. She's original, independent, flexible, open-minded, imaginative, and inquisitive.

She "plays with ideas," doesn't settle for obvious answers to problems. Ordinary people trust hard facts; creative types are intuitive—they look beyond facts to what might be.

Creative children often don't seem to be paying attention in school or appear unwilling to accept what they're told. They can get good marks but don't always care to, usually because they're involved in some special interest and don't like to conform to what others demand. Tests that measure academic prowess don't spot creative kids very well. 

Can you help a child develop creativity? Yes. Pay attention to her ideas, however odd they may be. Respect her creative efforts, no matter how rough or unfinished. Help her learn to test out ideas and to be tolerant of new ideas. Don't force her into a thinking pattern give her freedom. Help her get along with others, but don't teach her to suppress individuality in order to conform. Stimulate her to ask difficult, even unanswerable questions teach her to value all creative activity.

What about older students? Can creativity be taught? Possibly. Experiments at the University of Buffalo indicate that students put through creativity problem solving courses do better on creativity tests than students who don't take the courses.

Still up in the air though, is the main question—whether what’s being taught and tested is really the mysterious quality that makes the difference between producing a good idea and producing one truly creative. 

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