12 January 2011

Creativity – We need more of it!

Creativity is everywhere – we need more of it. Sir Ken Robinson, a noted British educational critic,  Gillian Lynnethinks that as a society, we waste creativity systematically. His belief is that we boil the creativity out of people as children. In school. We literally punish them for straying outside the lines, when outside the lines is the very place where creativity lives. Creativity helps develop skills that allow us to problem solve and think critically. Without imagination – which is the process that gives creativity life – how many problems would remain unresolved? There is even a cliché about coming up with creative solutions.  Labels are also a system that is stifling creativity. Let me share this story by Sir Robinson as told by Dr. Larry Johnson during a 2007 speech entitled “Why Creativity Matters.” 

It is a story of a little girl who could not sit still. She constantly fidgeted and moved about. Her motions were a disruption to her classmates, and she found herself in trouble all the time.
Today that child would likely be diagnosed as ADD and medicated.
Back then, however, she got sent to the principal’s office…and after a few of those visits, her parents were called in. The principal talked briefly with the 3 of them, and then asked her parents to step out of the room with him.
As they left, he leaned over and switched on the radio to a music station.
They made small talk for a few minutes, and then he brought them over to the door to look through the glass into his office …
You can guess what they saw — the girl was up out of her chair, swaying to the music…her body interpreting the sounds from the radio instinctively in her motion.
And the principal said, “I know what the problem is with your daughter… “
“She’s a dancer…
“Get her to a dancing school.”
The girl was Gillian Lynne. She grew up to be one of the most successful choreographers in the world, with a host of productions to her credit, including Cats, and Phantom of the Opera ….
Creativity matters.
Had that girl been put on Ritalin, we’d have lost one of the great artists of our age.
The issue that we’ve been struggling with as a society is that we think creativity is something only special people have. While creativity is surely special, I think it is also ubiquitous — and like the young Gillian, it just needs fertile ground in which to flower.
How many of us want to be that flower? To grow, innovate, create?
I think that all of us do —- on some level, in some way.
It is part of us, how we express ourselves — indeed, it is part of our very being. Our humanity.

                                     - From  Dr. Larry Johnson’s speech “Why Creativity Matters”  The New Media Consortium, 2007

This line. “…we think creativity is something only special people have” really stands out as the focus of this topic. Do we at times misinterpret creative savant for behavioral issues. Is this a subconscious practice or manipulative device? Now I am in no way minimizing these issues or suggesting that it is that cut and dry with everyone.. However, I feel that at times providers rush to place labels, “because it fits.” We spend more time focusing on what they do versus why they can not do it differently, unless we provide a label. I am experiencing this very battle with my own son, at only 2-1/2 years of age. Fine, if you want to say only special people have the ability to create, then  do we not refer to these children with labels & diagnoses as those with special needs? It is about finding the correct outlet to channel this distracting practice into something more fruitful. Not an easy task to identify with some and not always the case in others.  The use of creativity and allowing it to flow may just be the key to unlocking the potential of someone that is otherwise withdrawn, hyperactive, or even angry. Creativity is an expression that reaches us in many different ways. Creativity helps to organize the brain and the body to produce the finished product. Sometimes that product is a person. I believe if we all allow ourselves to be more creative openly, we may just alter our perceptions and allow more “Gillian’s” an opportunity to grow and share their gifts.

Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Thanks for reading my point of view!

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