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    « Psychedelic Amoeba | Main | Details »
    Wednesday
    Oct222008

    Eroding Kids' Creativity

    My daughter's pre-school visited a public school a few years ago and sat in on a kindergarten class. To supplement a book she read to the class, the teacher handed out poster-sized sheets of pre-printed pictures to small groups of children. The assignment was to color in the picture of a cow. As the children worked together, my daughter used a green crayon to color in the cow. Aghast, one of the kindergarteners said, "Cows aren't green, they're brown!" My daughter said, "They don't have to be brown. They can be green too!"

    How do adults erode creativity in children?

    Leslie Owen Wilson describes 7 ways that we impact creativity in On Killing Creativity in Children, including surveillance, evaluation, rewards, competition, control, restricting choice and pressured expectations. The list is a summary from The Creative Spirit by Goleman, Kaufman and Ray.

    Marvin Vartel's Ways Not to Kill Classroom Creativity highlights the role of the teacher in building or eroding creativity, including showing examples instead of defining problems. He notes that "image flooding" or showing too many examples can be intimidating and suggestive, creating slicker work but weaker creative thinking skills and unique ideas.

    When I was in school, we learned that stories were to be written in a particular style. Outline first. It's untrue. Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials Trilogy, comments, "One of the drawbacks of the national curriculum is that it seems to impose a single vision of how creative writing happens: first you make a plan and then you draft, edit and polish. But this is a false vision and I fear it's one that is stultifying and boring the hell out of a generation of children.”

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    Reader Comments (6)

    this is very interesting. I don't teach or have young children at home, but I'm interested in this concept of hindering creativity in others. I will check out the resources you wrote about. thanks.

    10.25.2008 | Unregistered Commenterlisa

    Lisa, I love the idea of applying this beyond the realm of kids. We focus so much on building creativity but being careful not to tread on creativity is just as important.

    Tammy

    10.25.2008 | Registered Commentergypsy

    Great post! Some authors talk about this idea you mention in the post of yours this piece links to as encouragement vs. praise. One should comment on what notices such as descriptors, but not "I like it" per se or "what a nice house" when it might not be a house at all. The idea is to avoid having kids become "praise junkies" or dependent on your opinion to validate their work.

    That is a sad story about the color of the cow - I hope your daughter doesn't end up with that teacher!

    10.27.2008 | Unregistered CommenterLecia

    Lecia, So true... I might comment on the rich color palette, the level of detail, a new technique or ask questions. Sometimes I ask what they would title the piece, for an interesting perspective.

    Tammy

    10.29.2008 | Registered Commentergypsy

    I will read these books and share them w my fellow teachers

    11.19.2009 | Unregistered CommenterTrish

    There's a song by Harry Chapin that illustrates this idea of eroding creativity in children. I often share this with my friends who are educators:

    http://www.harrychapin.com/music/flowers.shtml

    01.22.2010 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Patten

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