The Importance of Creativity for Children

kids-music-class

It is often thought that teaching children art, music and drama is not as important as teaching them Maths, Technology and Science. Creative subjects have been maligned and are seen as frivolous time wasters. They are seen as merely part of “playtime” and that the most important subjects to teach children are academic. What’s the point of teaching little Jacob art as he’ll hardly make a living as an artist, will he?

Truthfully, to think this is not altogether incorrect. The chances of someone making a decent living on an artist’s wage are slim. However, children should not be taught creative subjects with the idea that they will grow up to be the new Banksy, or the new Adele or the new Cumberbatch (best surname ever by the way). No, children need to be taught creative subjects as creativity is needed in any job that they will end up doing. Whether they are an accountant, a scientist, a teacher, a secretary, a shop assistant or a lawyer. They will be required to use their mind creatively.

One of my all time favourite heroes, educationalist Sir Ken Robinson’s (he’s definitely invited to my dream dinner party) definition of creativity is:

I define creativity as the process of having original ideas that have value. Creative work in any field often passes through typical phases. Sometimes what you end up with is not what you had in mind when you started. It’s a dynamic process that often involves making new connections, crossing disciplines and using metaphors and analogies.

He goes on to debunk some myths surrounding creativity:

There are various myths about creativity. One is that only special people are creative; another is that creativity is just about the arts; a third is that it’s all to do with uninhibited “self-expression”. None of these is true. On the contrary, everyone has creative capacities; creativity is possible in whatever you do, and it can require great discipline and many different skills.

Considering that the same areas of the brain that are used to create music, are also used during mathematical processing, you can see how encouraging creativity can benefit across the board. You can watch Sir Ken’s excellent TED talk on the subject here

So, why is it so important for children to be taught creativity at an early age. Can’t we just encourage adults to think creatively in their jobs?

There have been numerous studies that show children’s experiences early on in life can greatly influence the developing brain. Children are born with billions of neurons, but only a small portion are connected to each other. Throughout childhood the connections that are underused are cutback to make the brain more efficient. The connections that are used regularly become stronger. Therefore, the optimum time for people to develop skills are in the early years of childhood. As you may have often heard before, the early years develop the foundations of a person.

Creative play fosters cognitive and social development. Crucially, it also helps nurture problem solving skills. Critical thinking and social skills are vital for a person once they join the workforce.

Whilst academic subjects such as Maths and Science are important, creative subjects are as important. Without the nurturing of creativity, our society will stagnate and languish. We won’t see new inventions that will help enable people and create a more dynamic society. We won’t see new cures for diseases. We won’t find easier and more efficient ways of doing things, thus deterring a more economically sound society. Our progress will halt and everything our ancestors have done for us, will seemingly be futile.Β For society to be able to progress and evolve, new ideas need to be “created”, new and innovative ways of doing things need to be discovered and implemented. This progress with society is not possible without creativity.

Sir Ken believes that the current education system is stifling children’s creativity due to more focus on academic subjects and the way subjects are taught. There are already studies that show a child’s creativity starts to decline once they enter schooling.

Nobody knows what the future of this planet and the human race holds. These are unpredictable times. We need all the creative thinking that we can get. Creativity is not to be sniffed at.

So in short, let your child do as many rubbish paintings as they like, let them build countless structures with Lego, let them role play, let them try out the violin and let them sing to their heart’s content. Children are the future and all that.

 

47 comments

  1. aliamad89 · 24 Days Ago

    Couldn’t agree more. Your words remind me of something Neil Gaiman wrote about preserving libraries in the UK: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming

    Liked by 3 people

    • thebeasley · 24 Days Ago

      Oh this is just wonderful! Thank you so much for the link. I love Neil Gaiman and yes I agree with every word he said here. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Shallow Reflections · 23 Days Ago

    So true! I had time/space for creative play as a child, provided the same for my son and now his two sons are enjoying this essential element of childhood. And it is so fun to see them latching onto creative play like it’s their job (which it is).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Traci York · 23 Days Ago

    While the creativity stifling aspect wasn’t the reason we decided to homeschool (truth be told, avoiding freezing cold bus stops was more of a consideration… LOL) seeing posts like this remind me that all the stains & spills (not to mention 19 bazillion photos, most of them blurry, of faces, pets, and TV screens) was well worth it. Well stated, Hayley!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 22 Days Ago

      Aah thank you. Yes my friend who home schools says this was one of the reasons she decided to home school. I just did the school run in the pouring rain. We walk & had one umbrella between us & a hole in my welly- I totally see the appeal of homeschooling haha. Very small commute πŸ‘πŸ»

      Liked by 2 people

      • Traci York · 19 Days Ago

        Yep, the commute is very appealing, but the teachers didn’t read the fine print before they agreed to their contract. As a result, they must contend with 24 hour school days, no vacation time, zero pay, and a frequently grumpy assembly of students.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Holly · 19 Days Ago

        This is so true for us too! We wanted to home educate our children in order to facilitate a proper childhood, filled with creativity and freedom. It is the most amazing and rewarding experience.

        Liked by 1 person

      • thebeasley · 18 Days Ago

        Your lucky children. Sounds fantastic!

        Like

  4. thoughtsfromjasmine · 19 Days Ago

    Love this! As a child i didn’t struggle academically, but I never clicked with academic subjects the way I did with artier ones. It’s important that kids are lead to discover their passions; academic or otherwise. Creativity is a valuable life long skill!
    Jas xx

    Liked by 2 people

  5. fancypaperblog · 19 Days Ago

    I loved playing with a bag of buttons as a child
    No lie! It was the coolest toy. Now I see them as potential choking hazards mainly. Which is silly if I am present with them. Love the post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 19 Days Ago

      Haha I hear ya! Thank you x

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer · 19 Days Ago

      The problem with buttons and choking is that most parents just walk away and never pay attention to what they’re child is doing.

      Liked by 2 people

      • fancypaperblog · 19 Days Ago

        True. I used to string them into designs. Definitely super fun

        Like

  6. globalhousesitterX2 · 19 Days Ago

    Hayley, I enjoyed reading this post. Being an ex-kindergarten teacher, I loved encouraging children to be creative. Creative is intelligence having fun πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Ritu · 19 Days Ago

    Oh man don’t get me started on this!
    I’m fuming thst we can’t teach music drama dance and art more at primary school because tgere aren’t enough hours in the day after we have force fed them the new national curriculum! It’s like the three R’s all over again!
    Kids need those creative subjects to actually develop imaginations, empathy and social skills! For some this is their communucation….

    Liked by 2 people

    • thebeasley · 19 Days Ago

      Oh I bet! It’s truly heartbreaking. I feel for all my teacher mates who are so frustrated by the current education system x

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ritu · 19 Days Ago

        It is so hard Hayley. We can’t do anything about it either! It’s not like anyone ever listens to those of us who actually teach!

        Liked by 1 person

      • thebeasley · 19 Days Ago

        No as if an actual teacher’s opinion on teaching counts for anything 😑

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ritu · 19 Days Ago

        Exactly… 😐

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Phil Taylor · 19 Days Ago

    I agree completely. Too few children grow up being creative as adults, and it limits so much of what they go on to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You Can Always Start Now · 19 Days Ago

    Well said. I don’t think putting devices in their hands is doing anyone any favors either. Well hand eye/hand/thumb coordination maybe. Also creativity should carry on into adulthood. No one should tell us we shouldn’t be creating / playing at any age. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 19 Days Ago

      I totally agree. Keep playing, keep creating. It keeps the mind alive.

      Like

  10. Deb's World · 19 Days Ago

    Creativity is so important to young minds. As you say, they are the future!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jennifer · 19 Days Ago

    Yes! Yes! Yes! No invention, vaccine or mathematical equation happened without imagination. How can you build the first wheel, train, car or rocket without first imagining that it could happen?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pam Avoledo · 19 Days Ago

    My parents encouraged my writing. I found it’s a skill that’s taken for granted but boy, do people get jealous once you apply it It’s not on my resume for clerical work. It causes too much trouble. It’s discouraged in the American workplace, which is unfortunate. I think it’s a cultural problem. But creativity is necessary to create companies. Where would we be without Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?

    Liked by 2 people

    • thebeasley · 19 Days Ago

      I totally agree Pam. Bill and Steve are/were full of creativity. People’s creativity is more often than not suppressed, which is such a shame.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Gary · 19 Days Ago

    Only me again but gosh, what a post and does this stimulate my cognitive cranky!!! I went down the science route, not by choice, but by being pushed. Granted I did rather well, but my “natural” path turns out to “should have been creative.” Since I started writing several people have said what would I be now if I’d gone down that path at school and just after? I look at that with cognitive dissonance in that “Great compliment” against “Wasted life!” lol.

    In terms of science/math versus creative…if you look at genius moments then most of those originate in imagination and creativity. You can excel just by being the former yes, but to really inspire development and others then the creative side has to be there too. It stops you thinking “inside the box” and allows one to reach in to other areas and draw in information there. My first paper did exactly that in Nature…It was tagged “Heresy in the world of non-linear optics.” Won’t bore you with it, but conventional “wisdom” was a shade wrong (modest understatement). I believe that happened because my natural bent is creative and allows free form thinking to problem solve.

    Creative thinking should never be stymied or a distinct path. Everything needs the balance of the other side. Learning should be fun too and I would wager the best teachers of science are stuffed with creativity and imagination to make it exciting for young minds to engage with.

    Shoot I may reblog this comment… as its become a ramble soap box mutterance !!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 19 Days Ago

      Maybe you should, but that’s a fantastic response, thank you! It’s such an interesting subject. I completely agree that academic subjects and creative subjects compliment each other.

      I only excelled in creative subjects. The only academic subject I was good at was strangely Maths (I think it’s because I like order). Anyway, whenever I told adults or indeed other pupils what my favourite or best subjects were, I would just get sneered at and those subjects would be referred to as not “proper subjects” or not “proper school”. On reflection, that was absolutely awful and I fear that attitude hasn’t changed much over the years (of course, I only left school a couple of years ago).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gary · 18 Days Ago

        In my day the “sneering” was more to do with workloads methinks. Here I was doing 40 hours a week plus practicals and essays. That was in Biochemistry/microbiology at Uni. English students, as an example did 8. Little wonder it was (is still?) called the hobby course in comparison. But the stigma stills stick as you say.

        To me a course is a course though…although in truth I do question the validity of some that are offered nowadays. That said I have no idea if I’d have excelled creatively…its left me with an inability to even think I could be…bit of a blow when it comes to my writing that one!!

        I still maintain that if you asked a genius where the ideas came from then it would not be academic brain but creative brain. The former does the math and science, the latter inspires.

        Liked by 1 person

      • thebeasley · 18 Days Ago

        Oh yes, I do think the association with workload has something to do with it. Good point.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gary · 18 Days Ago

        Haha, yes it’s called jealousy…I’m a student, why am I working like a git and the creatives are getting creative in the pub!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • thebeasley · 18 Days Ago

        All the best creativity happens in the pub.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gary · 18 Days Ago

        Now that is a most compelling justification of the arts indeed. My life has been truly wasted 😰

        Liked by 1 person

  14. angelanoelauthor · 19 Days Ago

    Hi Hayley,
    I get a little choked up when I think about the 4th grade teacher that gave me extra credit for the short stories I wrote about dolphins and rainbows. Had she (and others) not encouraged my creativity I doubt I’d be the person I am today. You’re absolutely right about creativity being a practice rather than a gift. The more we think of ourselves as creative, the more creative we become. I love the idea of “play” as an adult. Not only does it help me take myself less seriously but it inspires all kinds of happy accidents. Instead of “what do you want to do today?” what about asking a spouse or friend, “What do you want to create today?” It might sound a little weird at first, but truly when we think of what we do in a day as an act of creation instead of boxes we have to check something magical happens. What was hard work or a drudgery can even become fun! I doubt I’d convince anyone–even myself–that this is possible in every situation. But I do practice asking myself the question: What do I want to create today? Do I want to create relationships? Do I want to create laughter? Do I want to find a way to make bathing a stinky dog fun?
    We adults can model creative lives for our kids and it sounds like we’ll need to do that even more now if schools continue the march towards academic subjects only. I remember a high school science teacher, Mr. Pfitzner, who used all kinds of goofy jokes and plays on words to keep students engaged. He made chemistry a joy through his creative approach to teaching somewhat dry topics. Creativity, to me, is a mindset. One you very rightly, and eloquently call out as one of the most important gifts we can give our children and each other, at any age.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 19 Days Ago

      Absolutely Angela. What a lovely idea of yours. Asking ourselves daily what we want to create today, is such a great way of “creating” a frame of mind and/or a wonderful goal by the end of the day. I love this idea!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Holly · 19 Days Ago

    I totally agree. I’m also a big fan of Sir Ken, he’s like THE man in home education communities! I home ed my kids and also run creative writing workshops for other HE kids nearby. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I love seeing young people expressing themselves and creating new worlds.

    And while yes, creativity is a transferable skill that everyone needs in whatever job they do, I also think it matters for its own sake too. Just taking time out to be and create has an intrinsic value quite apart from a distant career path. I also think young people should absoluotely be encouraged to make a living through directly using their creativity. There are so many options these days. I’m a writer, I have friends who are musicians, artists, illustrators. So what if they aren’t minted? They’re happy, that’s the most important thing. This is what I tell my kids every day, do what makes you happy, the rest will take care of itself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 18 Days Ago

      Absolutely agree with everything you say. Of course people can do/actually do creative jobs and no child (or adult) should ever be discouraged from doing so. Regardless of pay etc. Whenever I announced as a child that I wanted to be a singer/actor/dancer/writer, adults would just laugh and say “yeah, but back in the real world, what do you really want to do?” Why can’t creative jobs be the real world?! Ridiculous & so awful that many adults react like this. Anyway, yes creativity is so important for multiple reasons. Cheers x

      Like

  16. asseenonjean · 18 Days Ago

    I totally agree with you! I’m an early years teacher and we teach a well rounded curriculum to our children. It’s important for children to learn to be creative and they love to paint, draw, colour and engage in imaginative play.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. musicalmumblog · 1 Day Ago

    This is something I feel very passionately about as well! I don’t know what people think is going to be so beneficial about churning out endless streams of students with Maths/English/Science at A*-C, but who cannot solve problems, create, or imagine. So sad.

    Like

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