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Creativity - Methods In The Madness


Susan was trying her best to create a masterpiece for her art assignment. The colors whirled across the paper as she tried to conjure an order of symmetrical designs, but it simply turned up as a mess of sloppy circles. Baffled and distraught, she turned to her mum and said "Mum! I am just not creative, I give up!"

An accomplished and capable student, Sue is also very creative; she just wasn't artistic. The difference between the two is huge and we often mistake one for the other. According to Vicki Caruana in Giving Your Child the Excellence Edge, creativity is the power of imagination. Everyone has the ability to see new things in old ways, to do things in ways that have never been tried before.

Creativity is an innate ability and one component of it is the ability to think of unique ways to make things work better. But as children progress through the education system, the "what if" attitude of the preschool years often turns into "what would score me the best grade?".

The freedom to play and explore all options is replaced by the right-or-wrong rigours of examinations and model answers. Fostering creativity will help your tween to handle difficult situations in her life, whether it's academic or social in nature.

Cultivating Creativity

Fluency

Fluency  is creative agility. If children are fluent in creativity, it means that they can generate a large amount of ideas when confronting a problem or seeking improvement. This will help them cope with new situations. 

A great way to test the child's fluency is to name at least 12 possible uses for an umbrella. Brainstorm with him on the various options and you will be greatly surprised by the silliness, as well as the ingenuity, of some of the ideas. It also goes to show how a perfect solution to a problem can sometimes hide among the silliest answer!

Flexibility

The creative thinker is able to choose and explore a variety of approaches to her problems without losing her overall goal. That means she can offer then multiple viewpoints and is not daunted by teacher's statement that there is only one solution. Encourage role playing in various hypothetical situations:

What should you do when you come across a menacing snake in the garden? The common response would be to run as fast as you can, but nudge her to explore other options and you will find that flexibility in creative thinking will provide better solutions.

Originality

Creative thinkers embrace originality; commonly referred to as "thinking out of the box". They create new combinations and are adept at cultivating new relationships. They reach beyond established systems and ignore accepted norms and boundaries. A child who shows a gift in this area is often not afraid to oppose, change or complement what others normally expect. He will stand out for his creative interpretation of situations and is often counted on as an inspiring source of new ideas.

Play the game Scattergories (available at www.amazon.com or try the free, simpler version at www.geocities.com/mzlamp/Categories.doc) The goal is to come up with as many original ideas within a given category as possible. Hone these skills in your child and you will find her blossoming into an enterprising and confident person who can think on her feet!

Sensitivity

Remaining sensitive helps to direct creative thinkers away from distractions in life. We all operate on different levels of sensitivity. An overly sensitive child tends to be easily overwhelmed and be paralyzed by unfamiliar tasks, while an insensitive child will be clueless and indifferent to potential crisis. Learning to balance between these two extremes is invaluable to the creative thought process.

In setting realistic goals, we must be sensitive to and realistic about the problems around us. A good place to start is to cultivate empathy is by teaching a child to put herself in someone else's shoes. Doris Shallcross, author of Teaching Creative Behavior, says that developing sensitivity to problems is largely predicting them by reading the clues as to what might happen. This ensures that the child is not merely passively reacting to a given problem.

Set up a mental picture of a school assembly hall. Then, predict what might happen if a fire broke out and your child has to be involved in evacuation plans. Work through the worst case scenario; in doing so, the child is able to comprehend the realistic dynamics of a situation.

Solve Problems Creativity

Teach your kids to follow a creative process to problem solving. They will form new habits of thinking which will make them effective problem solvers in the future.

  • Define the problem in manageable proportions by dissecting and listing the different components of the issue.

  • Evaluate all possible solutions by brainstorming possible solutions and later judging them according to their effectiveness in eliminating the problem. Don't be too hasty to judge or junk the ideas before the creative juices have a chance to flow! The most improbable solution sometimes ends up being the best.

  • Develop a plan of action-choose, act and evaluate the most logical solution. Execute these steps in order to achieve success in problem solving.

  • Adjust plans when necessary. Sometimes the ideal solution may not work. Be prepared to re-work and try Plan B!
 

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