I came across a post through my “Pediatric and School-Based Therapy Discussion Group” on LinkedIn today and it got me thinking about my experience with creativity. I have always been a huge proponent of letting children be creative in their natural environments. This was probably shaped by my parents who let us watch very little TV and were always admonishing us to “go play outside!” which we did on most days. There, outside, left to our own devices and very little store-bought material, we created worlds far away from our seemingly boring, humdrum, kind of middle-class “Leave it to Beaver” life. We created “farms” in the woods, building rail fences from dead trees and branches, we cut trails through the woods and down hills, so we’d have a sliding “chute” when the snow came, we played “Army” with sticks and created personas to fit the scenario – and it didn’t matter if you were a girl or a boy – you could be “Joe” and no one thought anything of it. We created “stores” and sold things that we created and did the usual lemonade/Kool-Aid stand thing (I was absolutely dismayed to see a “lemonade stand” in a box for sale in the window of a drugstore chain the other day), with no help from our parents, except for the purchase of the drink mixes. We were fortunate to have art and craft materials at our disposal, and used them freely. We drew elaborate drawings on the pavement with chalk. We built tree houses with found materials. We went off for a day on our bikes, “camping” in the woods for the day and pretending to be famous adventurers or lost travelers.
I wonder if this sort of childhood is still happening for most of our children and grandchildren – my children grew up just as personal computers and video games hit the scene, and I will say they did have a strong interest in these things and became adept at using them, so much so that I found myself relying on their expertise more than a few times while learning skills I needed for my job and for personal pursuits (e.g., how to use “Paint”). But I also encouraged as much outside time as possible, too, as I realized the importance of pretend play and interacting with neighborhood friends, and now my children and their friends have happy memories of growing up together. It’s funny – I never hear them reminiscing about that “awesome day of video gaming” – it’s always about how they made a fort in the woods, or made up a commercial, made costumes, or played with all the animals we had. I see all the artwork my daughter created over her years of growing up and am glad I gave her what she needed to pursue this passion and am thankful for the teachers she had that encouraged and allowed her to express herself in this way. My son – well, let’s just say his creativity took another road and he would make a great mechanical engineer – a logical, pragmatic kind of thinker, but still needing that creativity to think through a problem and create a solution.
That’s something else we have to remember – that “creativity” is not all about being an “artist” – creativity can be found and is essential in all talents and professions – it just takes different forms. We, as speech-language pathologists, need to be creative out of necessity, and those who aren’t as “creative” as they’d like to be, can always find someone else who is and use their ideas. The creativity in this is the ability to find what you need and apply it to your situation – something all of us do every day, no matter what the task.
Here is a link to an easy-to-read graphic presentation on creativity that includes statistics and quotes from famous people about their take on creativeness:
Let me know if this doesn’t work – it looks as though it’s my own personal “gateway” and is bypassing a sign-in. I tried it, and it works, but it may be automatically signing me in when I click on it.