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Creativity - in the footsteps of giants

This post is part of the World Council of Gifted & Talented
 Children's International Week of the Gifted 2012 blog tour

I posted a little while back on creativity and why I didn't think we had it here, but that on closer inspection and more reflection, perhaps we do. 

We are headed off to Australia's capital today to go and see Agatha's Christie's The Mousetrap. It is the longest continuously running play in the world and Hubby and the kids are pretty huge Agatha Christie fans. So I was quite amused this week to find this quote from the lady herself:

I suppose it it because nearly all children go to school nowadays and have things arranged for them that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas. 

And in this week is the International Week of the Gifted I have been following some links and doing some (what some people would consider "heavy" reading on the issue). It got me thinking - what do we need to produce creativity? 

Albert Einstein thought formal education stifled creative thought:

It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreck and ruin without fail.

And of course the most famous quote of all:

I have never let schooling interfere with my education ~ Mark Twain

Beth Hennessey says for the gifted to be creative they need instrinsic motivation and to feel in control of the learning process and yet it is often the case that the highly intelligent are not considered "creative" - they do not necessarily create something "new" (Joyce Van Tassel-Baska). According to her, we need "just the right amount of education" - like the proverbial porridge - too much "education" can prove detrimental. If you know too much about your chosen field, the ideas of others can block innovative thinking in the domain.

Initially we started homeschooling to stop sliding down the slippery slope into anxiety and other mental health issues - because let's face it, if you are that miserable, it's going to be difficult to learn anything, let alone be creative! But now things have settled down, we have found our homeschooling "groove" and as we move into the high school years, we need to make sure we don't get too bogged down in "content" and that we keep providing, nurturing and encouraging those skills that might lead to innovative creative thinking in later years.

What can I do as a homeschooling mum to give my amazing, bright, sparky kids the chance to think outside the square? How can we provide the conditions that might allow them to stand on the shoulders of giants?

Here is my list of ways that we encourage creativity at home:
  • make it a safe place to take risks, to try and fail, to give it a shot
  • allow time to ponder, to explore, to think divergently
  • give space to ask questions, to argue, to criticise, to discuss
  • give opportunities to read, to view, to watch, to experience
  • consciously allow them to chase ideas, follow rabbit trails, allow curiosity, to imagine
  • focus on potentialities, not just on deficits

They may never write a play (let alone a long-running one) or come up the theory of relativity or be considered leaders in literature. They may indeed be those ones that end up knowing a lot, but not providing anything new to the world. And that would be OK too. But if we can give those things to our kids, we have provided the best environment we can to let those seeds of creativity bloom. Who knows what it possible?

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me ~ Issac Newton

Read all the other inspiring posts at the International Week of the Gifted 2012 here.


  1. I love this post!

    It is back to school week here in our little part of the world(Indiana)and as always we have several new people join our local homeschooling list. I see so many people try to recreate school at home and I just want to shout, there is SO much more to learning then school.

  2. Beautiful!! So glad you contributed this. So appreciated! Les

  3. What a beautiful post. I do worry that mainstream education's aspirations seem to create beige and take my hat off to your dedication. This is serious food for thought x

  4. Okay, so somehow my toddler managed to submit a post while I had my back turned. He had something serious to say, while all I could muster was 'wqds' ;)

    1. I did wonder about that...creative writing perhaps?? ;)

  5. Argh - I do know how you feel - my son was signed into Google on my laptop!


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