“Everything you can imagine is real.”
It all starts with an idea! Children are born curious and inquisitive with a natural instinct to learn and explore. Their imagination knows no bounds but as they grow, this natural urge to question subsides and children start molding themselves to fit in the existing surroundings. The environment that we nurture children in, especially during the early years of childhood has a long lasting impact on building their self-image and maintaining the natural curiosity and imagination they are born with. As they grow a little older, they reach an age where children do not want to be tagged as different from the mainstream or coming up with ideas which others cannot relate with. It is imperative during this early journey of life that the child within us all gets a safe shelter to imagine beyond bounds and come up with innovative ideas. School and teachers play an important part in giving that nurturing environment to the children where they feel safe and respected while expressing themselves. After all, “Children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded.” (Jess Lair)
Creativity plays an important role in the development of the brain and building nerve connections. The best way to do so is to expose the children to free-play or creative play. In an era when we are mostly fixated with structure, even in something as basic as toys for children, the room for creativity to develop narrows down. Not every activity needs to have a particular outcome or a rigid structure to follow. For example, in a study on children 6 to 7 years old, 52 children were split into two groups. The group of children who played with salt-dough was significantly more creative in craft activities than the group assigned to a structured exercise. Later on, psychologists observed that pretend play, in particular, was related to subsequent divergent thinking improvement. Creativity is not only about artists, writers, and painters but is an essential skill towards problem solving, risk taking, tolerating ambiguity and even following our passions in life.
If we wish to raise children with 21st century skills of critical thinking and creativity, it is imperative to give them the opportunities and environment that could help in unfolding these. Here is how…..
“There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.”
Teachers need to create an open-minded and compassionate environment. Children come up with ideas freely if they feel that their ideas will be received with an open mind. Students need to trust that even if they make mistakes or fail in what they thought they would succeed in, they will be respected. This would need constant encouragement by the teacher for inculcating the habit of risk-taking in children in the teaching-learning process.
Getting into the uncomfortable habit of, ‘What if!’
For fostering creativity there have to be blank spaces to be filled, a lot of what ifs, imagines, and suppose……… Walking into unexplored territories takes courage and again the groundwork has to be done by the teachers to help children think out of the box and without giving a particular structure. A simple example could be showing a picture and leaving a blank space in it and asking students to fill in whatever they might think there could be. It is astonishing the kind of creative ideas children come up with when given the freedom to imagine!
Behind every creative student, there is a caring teacher!
It takes a lot to unlock the magic of creativity in students. A lot of planning, time management, risk-taking, and research by the teacher to help foster creativity in children. It takes a caring teacher who helps children in expressing themselves freely, gives constructive feedback, designs activities to engage them in, and curates an environment to encourage innovation and imagination. Be that teacher, because, ‘A teacher affects eternity; he/she can never tell where his/her influence stops.’ (Henry Adams)
Universal Wisdom School