From a young age we encourage children to experiment with pencils and crayons, textas and pens, scissors and glue. And if we’re really daring, we give them some glitter.
Recently, my four-year old daughter had great fun making a car out of a cardboard box. She made a dashboard using paper and a highlighter, cutting out things she has seen in the car. Helping out, I made some “tools” so she could fix her car. Imaginative play at its best.
How many fridges or walls are adorned with creative works from preschool? We celebrate creativity and put it on display.
But what will happen as my daughter gets older and starts school? The forming of letters, numbers, handwriting and knowledge of subject material takes over from creative play (although creative play is incorporated into the learning of essential skills).
Something happens to our creative side.
Creativity is compartmentalised as another academic adjunct, but a subservient one.
Creativity is often sidelined from academic foci, pushed to one side in the latter part of our school education system.
The assumption, particularly in high school, is that English (as a critical analysis subject) mathematics, the sciences, history and geography are more important than art, music, creative writing and other manual creative endeavours like woodwork and metalwork.
Creativity is often sidelined as a ‘hobby,’ derided as a semi-serious concern. If it doesn’t make money, or you can’t make a career from it, what’s the point? After all, who wants to be treated by a “hobbyist surgeon?”
As a high school teacher, I see so many students without a creative outlet, focused as they are on academic success. Creativity is limited to specific text forms, rather than exploring different media to express their ideas.
Permission to be creative is denied. Why?
At the lowest level of Bloom’s taxonomy is Knowledge, then Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis to Evaluation at the pinnacle.
The focus is on the reconstitution of information.
In a newer version of Bloom’s, the nouns are replaced with verbs: Remembering, Understanding, Applying, Analysing and Evaluating. At the highest tier of the taxonomy, “Evaluation” is replaced with “Creating.” It means using the knowledge we have to create new knowledge, new ideas.
This is a clear indication of the role creativity plays in our learning.
We need to be doing something. Creating is an active verb.
So why are we waiting for permission to be creative?
If you are a creative person, if you feel like being creative, if you have had thoughts of doing something creative, what are you waiting for?
If your workbooks are covered in marginalia, random doodlings and scribbled couplets, break out of the edges and move to the centre of the page.
Give Yourself Permission
Don’t wait for permission.
Start creating. Now.
It doesn’t matter whether you intend to make your creativity outlet a career or simply to enrich your life.
I have given myself permission to be a creative person.
I am a writer.
My goal is to be a published author.
Your creative medium may not be the same as mine. It may be photography, painting, music, dance, cooking.
Your goals may be different. It might be to hold an exhibition of your photography or paintings. To learn an instrument, develop a new cooking skill. Whatever.
Whatever your creative interest, here are 4 things to do once you have given yourself permission.
1. Be Deliberate and Courageous
Choose to make creativity a part of your lifestyle.
Choose something you are passionate about and is interesting for you.
Choose a creative activity to bring fulfillment and pleasure to your life because creativity enriches.
2. Make Time
Set aside time to be creative on a regular basis. Do whatever it takes. Turn off the television, put on some music and create.
3. Be Diligent
Protect your time. If you have committed to doing something, follow through on the decision. Make creativity a habit.
4. Share Your Work
There is great risk in putting your work out there for others to see. Be bold.
Depending on your creative medium, try flickr, tumblr, a blog like WordPress, somewhere to make your work visible. If you’re unsure at first, post it to your facebook wall if you don’t want the broader public to see.
Don’t wait to be given permission.
Give yourself permission.
Go and create.