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.”