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.


August 7. 2010 01:52

This is great!  My child asks why all the time, never stops talking in fact.  This is a great reminder of how wonderful though sometimes annoying the addition of "why" is to his vocabulary!

Emmy Vincent

August 7. 2010 01:59

Every word of it is true!  This morning she found a new button that she thinks will make her invisible...but she is not sure yet...still working on that one.


August 15. 2010 02:52

I totally agree - if parents took more time to delight in each moment with their child, the world would be a brighter place! Our little rays of sunshine are making a difference  every day and it's up to us to notice!

Stop long enough to see it, celebrate it, talk about it, share it, and encourage more of the same!

Make the memories and celebrate every moment, every day!

I certainly try to!


August 18. 2010 04:36

Webster's Thesaurus lists the following synonyms for creative: inventive, innovative, imaginative, ingenious, original, resourceful, clever, mystical. These are qualities needed in most every walk of life and certainly helpful in most any job. More often than not the word creative is associated with being artistic and clearly we are not all artistic. But, for those of us that work at O2B, we have the pleasure of seeing creativity in action everyday. Whether it is in the children with magic buttons, our talented teachers, afterschool counselors or maintenance crew and we all have the opportunity to contribute and leave our mark. The best way to develop creativity in children is to be a role model. Creativity is not developed when you tell them to, but when you show them. As Andy so beautifully put it about his own daughter, our children have the ability to inspire and spark OUR creativity everyday. Case in point... I'll be setting up a meeting today with Ella to discuss those magic buttons and just how one might be able to acquire their own!!!


August 31. 2010 02:13

There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working ,great job!


September 14. 2010 00:03

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October 31. 2011 15:57

I enjoyed your blog post, my wife and I are going through this with our 6 year old. We are enjoying the creativity and do not want it to go away by playing video games or tv.

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