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PREVIEW: How to Nurture Creativity in Our Children (and Ourselves) by Barnet Bain

Did you know that 98% of three-year-olds tested at brainstorming ideas, register as ‘creative geniuses?’ By age 25, that number is 2%. It’s depressing, but true.

By the time a child is ten years old, he or she has an imagination structured by tens of thousands of messages and inputs, all reinforcing the lie that self-worth can be found through the games and products one engages, and narrow conformity with one’s social group. As a result, stress and alienation have never been greater.

Think about what that means for the future. Long before our first job or relationship, we have mostly lost our creative birthright—and many don’t even know it. It shows up as feeling uninspired, stuck, seeing no solution to our problems, unable to take life, love or work to the next level, but it is really a limited understanding of creativity and imagination itself. Creativity has been so diminished, so narrowly defined as to separate us from its true nature.

The party line is that creative intelligence is limited to the arts, that you have to be a writer, a painter, etc., that there are limited outlets for creative energy. That’s one worldview.

Here is mine. Everything is a process of creativity. Maybe you are not interested in creating a circus or a symphony. How about a family, satisfying relationship, or meaningful work? How about a business– perhaps the major expression of creativity in America. Every thought or feeling or choice you have IS a creative act. Knowing that, can change everything.

There are other reasons that creativity is worth our attention. To meet the challenges of a world becoming new, challenges with too few solutions, creative literacy must be awakened. In a time when art, drama and music classes are being cut from school budgets, and debate and civics curricula are practically non-existent, our children must look elsewhere to develop lifelong skills of imaginative attunement that will free them to dream big.

That’s why learning to stretch our imaginations beyond outmoded practices is so crucial.


 

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