Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Creativity - do we have it??

Last week's Unschooling Tools by Stephanie over at the amazing Ordinary Life Magic was Creativity (I just had to go and change that line into past tense, because now it's next week).

When I first read that, I thought "well, that'll be a short post!". I don't really think of myself as creative. But I have pondered this question before: What is creativity? Is it being artistic? Crafty? (Adding interesting fonts at strange places in a text?)  That is just one aspect of creativity. One I have to admit we don't do that well here. But we have had moments of crafty/arty bliss:


I am trying to "practise" more art and craft - getting books out of the library to inspire us:

Putting books out on display is improving our uptake of them - thank you Tracey Mansted for the idea!

and I have a stash of art and craft stuff that I need to get out more often:

 - who knows where it will take us?

Creativity is also commonly associated with the performing arts. It's creating pieces on piano and immersing yourself in music:

It's performing and acting and pretending:

Acting out Sorcerer's Apprentice

We have quite a few moments like those (only I don't always capture the joy on film).

When I was studying for my Certificate of Gifted Education, one of the definitions of giftedness in the literature was also one of the most controversial, because it included creativity as one of the criteria for being gifted (it also included above average ability and task commitment - which are also controversial, but that is another post for another day).

Joseph Renzulli's take on creativity included:
  • fluency/flexibility/originality of thought
  • openess to new experiences/receptive to that (including thoughts and ideas) which is new and different
  • curious/speculative/adventurous and willing to take risks in thoughts and actions
  • sensitive to detail
  • appreciative of aesthetic characteristics of things and ideas
  • willing to act on/react to external stimuli and also one's own thoughts and ideas
Now, that's a bit more broad than just visual and performing arts! And I truly don't think schools are the place for this sort of creativity. Schools (generally speaking) do not encourage this sort of thought and behaviour - they don't have time and the classes would be too hard to manage (I know this from experience as a high school teacher). They encourage cookie-cutter experiences where it is easy to tick a box and put it on a report. Even art is not creative - it's "draw a head" or "colour this in" or "make a cat out of play dough". Perhaps this is one reason my kids didn't always do so well in school - the opportunities to think outside the square or view the world in a unique way are limited.

I want to share a little story with you about my creative "out of the box thinking" daughter. When we went to have her (and her brother) IQ tested, the psych related an exchange afterward. One of the questions was "if 15 passengers are on the bus, 10 people get on, and 3 get off, how many people are left on the bus?" (or words to that effect). After pondering this for a moment (and the psych was good at allowing thinking time), Wombat Girl asked "does that include the bus driver?". The psych said in all her years of administering this test, no one had ever asked that question. But it is a great example of the different ways in which we think (and also as why schools and school testing may never really show her true ability).

And I think that thinking outside the square is where our true creativity lies in this household:


So I guess our greatest homeschooling "tool" for creativity is time. Time to explore new ideas, time to ask questions, time to find the answers, and time to create new ways of looking at things and ideas.

Gotta add another TED video on creativity (there are lots) but this is a goody:


  1. Wow, Ingi. Stunning, thoughtful, thought-provoking post. I now have to check all these links, re-read your words, reflect, and smile that I know someone who thinks so deeply about so much, and is such an inspiration.

    And I love love love all these photos! What wonderful, curious kids you have. The apple doesn't fall far, does it…! :)

    1. Aww, Helena! You are a sweetie! It was a post I had pondered and thought about quite a bit - I do think we over-simplify "creativity" and that maybe kids like mine (and people like me) are not considered creative, but in fact, we do have that mind set!

      And it was kinda fun going through all the photos to find ones that showed curiosity, rather than a finished product. I think my kids are pretty wonderful, but (as you would hope) I am a bit biased!

  2. I love your post! When you commented on my blog about us being more creative then you guys, I thought your were kidding :). I see your kiddos as being very creative. I mean reading and playing the piano at the same time?

    My belief why homeschooled children do so much better thinking outside the box (like your daughter with the passenger question) is because they were never put inside that "box" in the first place. They truly have the gift of seeing the world in a whole new way.

    1. I guess I get the homeschool guilts because we don't spend our afternoons "creating" with paint and wool and clay! But after thinking about it for a while, I think they are very creative in their thinking.

      I tried to fit my kids in the (school) box, but they didn't fit!!! The box was slowly killing that creativity and spirit. Much better at home where we love seeing the world that way :-)

  3. This reminds me of a story my MIL likes to tell about when hubby was little and brought home a failing art paper because he didn't color the sky blue and the grass green. Some of that was pure stubborness (I'm sure) but why would you penalize a child for coloring the world as they see it?

    1. Oh, that is such a sad story, Jane! And unfortunately, not an uncommon one, I believe!

  4. You may not spend much time covering things in glue and glitter :) but you all have a life full of creativity. That is apparent from what you share on here even when you are not writing a post about creativity. Love this!

    1. Thank you! I think we are pretty creative now too :-)


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