Do your children have time to develop creativity?

Published by Lori Pickert on July 30, 2012 at 09:24 AM

 

To put it simply, innovation isn’t rewarded in schools. Instead, it’s often punished. — Conformity Strangles Creativity

To be playful with ideas, you have to have enough time to have them, explore them, and combine them in new ways.

Riffing and trying new things require time.

If you only bake twice a year, you’re probably not going to experiment by throwing in a handful of craisins or a cup of sour cream just to see what happens. Because you bake so seldom, your tolerance for risk (for ruining your batch of cookies, say) is very low.

You don’t have the opportunity to experiment enough to develop a sense of what will probably work. You can’t take failures in stride because they factor so heavily compared to your total amount of baking. One failure means half your baking this year was wasted.

If you bake all the time, these problems disappear. Your failures aren’t statistically significant. You’ll just bake something else in a few days. You’re more confident because you have more experience — with success and with failure.

You have time to develop an instinct about flavors, about how things work together, about what usually works and what’s more of a crazy let’s-just-see-what-happens. Linus Pauling said, “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” When you have more time to have ideas, you have more good ideas.

If you have enough opportunity to practice, you can roll with your failures or not-clear-winners — your successes outweigh your failures. And your skill improves steadily over time: both your foundational skill and your skill for experimenting and trying new things.

If you want to be good at something, if you want to develop talent for a thing, you need to do that thing as much as possible.

You’re not just developing your ability to be creative — you’re developing your tolerance for creativity. You’re creating a larger allowance for innovation.

If we want to help our children develop confidence in their own ideas, we have to help them by lowering the stakes so they’ll feel free to experiment. “When people hold back from taking risks, they miss opportunities.” Do your children have enough time to develop creativity? Without it, they won’t have the same opportunities.

 

8 comments

Comment by Lori Pickert on July 30, 2012 at 10:14 AM

If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative. — Woody Allen

Comment by amanda {the hab... on July 30, 2012 at 11:54 AM

yes! it's the freedom to experiment and fail that is so important, the ability to make a mistake, learn from it, try again.

Comment by estea on July 30, 2012 at 02:29 PM

love the baking analogy!

i have a child who seems to come by this "fail small and often" way of thinking by nature. I have another who needs to be reminded (like his mother) to shake off the stress of the small failures and learn from them.

Comment by Elizabeth on July 30, 2012 at 10:10 PM

"If we want to help our children develop confidence in their own ideas, we have to help them by lowering the stakes so they’ll feel free to experiment. "

My 10 year old loves to bake. She's been baking with close supervision since she was 4, with at -a -distance supervision since she was 7 and now I often wake up from a nap with the baby with the smell of her baked goods wafting through the house. People are always amazed when they come over to our house and they eat goods baked by my daughter. She makes all the holiday baked goods so I can focus on the meal. I can trace how this happened. There was a time when I supervised not only due to age but because I was invested in how those goods turned out...I would be eating them. But then I had to become gluten free and I stopped eating baked goods. I was no longer invested in how the product came out. I wasn't going to eat the muffins, so why should I care if she measured out too much flour? Because of my dietary restriction she was given total freedom. And now? Were all gluten free/grain free. I'm invested again because I can now eat those goods so sometimes I do butt in with, "That almond flour is expensive, could you please throw some chocolate in those vanilla muffins?" Ultimately, it's her decision wether or not to listen to my suggestion. Why? Because if she declared, "I'm going to bake something" then it's her project and I allow her the freedom to reject my suggestions. If I want chocolate chip muffins, then I can take the time to make some myself.

And I love your whole analogy about experimentation with baking. My daughter lately has not been following any recipes for baked goods. Some have flopped and some, I'm sorry to say, have been awesome but since she doesn't like to write she didn't write down the recipe for me to make again.

Comment by Lori Pickert on August 1, 2012 at 04:35 PM

 

Because if she declared, "I'm going to bake something" then it's her project and I allow her the freedom to reject my suggestions. If I want chocolate chip muffins, then I can take the time to make some myself.

THIS. letting her have ownership of her own project, her own ideas, her own *work*! she’s the one doing the work, she’s the one with the vision — it seems to me my kids have the most success when i stay completely out of their way. even though i have *great* ideas. ;o)

maybe you can get her to use a voice recorder for her recipes instead of writing them!

Comment by Tracey on July 31, 2012 at 10:48 PM

This makes me think of one of my favorite quotes.

"Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it." Madeline L'Engle

We learn so much from our failures and from working things out when the plan in our head doesn't quite play out the way we thought it would. Often our improvisation, like making due with a substitute ingredient, can open up our thinking.

Comment by Lori Pickert on August 1, 2012 at 05:03 PM

 

and i’ve got two for you, tracey :)

If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is just to write. Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow. — Louis L’Amour

I don’t know where my ideas come from, but I know where they come to. They come to my desk, and if I’m not there, they go away again. — Philip Pullman

both of these underline, for me, the importance of setting aside that time dedicated to project work. making the time leads directly to doing the work. building the *habit* of making the time leads to building the habit of doing the work.

madeline l’engle is one of my favorite writers. i think of that quote of hers when parents doubt that their children even *have* ideas or interests. you have to build a life that celebrates thinking and learning, making and doing, having ideas and then making them happen. you don’t wait for the inspiration — you create the circumstances that create it.

Comment by Teri on August 2, 2012 at 08:37 AM

So inspiring!!!!

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