Fixing "The Creativity Crisis" with Magic Buttons

August 17, 2010 06:00 by Andy

My four year old daughter is magic.  She tells me so.  She can do anything…or not, depending on how it suits her.  She doesn’t have to drink milk.  You see, “magic girls don’t have to drink milk.”  But she agrees to drink it.  She doesn’t have to sleep either…although she agrees to go to bed…usually.

She tells me she has a button…five in fact.  Magic buttons.  But I can’t see them.  They are in her bones.  The first button turns her magic on.  The second button turns her into a flying pony, a unicorn, a butterfly, a ladybug or a flower…”the real kind, not the fake kind.”  The third button turns her back.  The forth button turns her into a rock star and magic “sprinkles” shoot from her entire body.  Rock star sprinkles.  We’re not sure what the fifth button does, but we’re quite sure she has one.

And I celebrate.  I celebrate the creative mind that is blossoming in my home.  I celebrate the confident spirit that defines who my daughter is.  She knows she can be anything.  She is not deterred by laws of nature or human obstacles that too often kill the dream.  A recent Newsweek article presented research that stated that the correlation to lifetime creative accomplishments was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ.  The article goes on to say that for the first time in generations, American creativity scores are falling significantly in younger children from Kindergarten through sixth grade.

What does this mean?  Why is this happening?  In short, there are no conclusive answers.  But there are clearly some easy places to look.  More TV; more videogames; more structured school curriculum with less art, music, and physical education; less neighborhood freedom and exploration.  Entertainment is being packaged FOR kids.  Kids no longer have to create it.  So how did we get here? 

I think creativity has always been taken for granted.  Although it is valued and appreciated, it has never been coveted or desired.  We do not formally teach creativity.  You have “it” or you don’t.  We assume that kids have “it”…until it leaves…and then you’re a grown-up. Can this be?  Is this OK?

Newsweek states that “a recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No.1 ‘leadership competency’ of the future.”  Our world is changing.  The knowledge revolution is upon us.  The jobs of tomorrow will be very different than the jobs of today…and we don’t even know exactly what they will be.  So what to do?

Nurture the creativity of your child.  Ask what ifs.  Paint pictures.  Dance in the kitchen.  Play princess or pirate or superhero.  Talk about nature and people and places and things.  And most importantly, embrace the most wonderfully annoying, educational, simplistic, complex question in the world…”why?”  Answer the question every time it is asked.  Turn the tables on your child and ask them to take a guess at their own questions…and then fully engage yourself in the answer!  Be present!  Be interested!  Be curious!  Be a parent!

If you do…and if you are…your child’s magic buttons will guarantee a very successful life journey.  Here’s to rock star sprinkles and an enjoyable ride.