As if tick-borne diseases, sunburn, and soccer injuries weren’t enough? Now we have to worry that we’re not doing enough to inspire our children’s creativity?
Before you start feeling guilty and put on the hair shirt, really let soak in this key point: getting creativity flowing in your child doesn’t have to be hard. Inspiring creativity can be as natural as leveraging an interest your child already has.
So Your Child Loves Minecraft?
Let’s say your daughter, son, niece, or nephew really loves Minecraft, the computer game. (And secretly you’re a little grateful that she’s playing it right now. Minecraft is giving you a needed summer break.)
Why not purchase some Minecraft Legos for her?
Not castle legos. Not Harry Potter legos…that world is already fully imagined and fully complete. Instead of fighting her interest in Minecraft, use it. Leverage her interest in that world of caves. Leverage her passion and investment.
You’ve been fighting it. You’ve been thinking, she should be practicing piano. She should be exercising. Maybe she should even be studying her flashcards.
There is nothing wrong with her interest in technical mastery.
There’s nothing wrong with her wanting to lose herself in a challenging task. It’s pretty impressive that she wants to lose herself in a challenging task. It’s remarkable that she wants to build something, create something, get involved in an arduous building project.
Before we talk about how to use those Minecraft Legos to foster creativity, let’s back up.
What is Creativity, and Why Does it Matter?
In one of the most watched TedTalks of all time, “Do Schools Kills Creativity,” Sir Ken Robinson, makes a persuasive case on why we need to create an education and learning system that nurtures creativity.
Pretty much every expert in the world agrees with Robinson, who says that our schools and the structure of modern life are destroying our children’s capacity for creativity. Simultaneously, you can’t shake a stick at a college brochure without reading about innovation, creativity, and the “entrepreneurial” mindset.
Now, see, you’re probably back to the guilt. Don’t go there.
Being a caregiver is hard. More specifically, being a caregiver during the summer is hard. There are additional activities and responsibilities. There’s more sand and sports gear on the floor. The children’s soccer or baseball schedules. Not enough food in the fridge. Planning those cross-country or camping trips. Or, conversely, the emotional labor of explaining to yourself, your child, and your friends, family, and in-laws why you’re not going on a trip. Maybe there wasn’t money in the budget. (Well, kudos to you for having a budget.)
You don’t need to orchestrate your child’s creativity.
That’s the lovely, elegant point. Creativity is about tapping your child’s interests. In this case, her interest in Minecraft. Don’t judge her interest. Harness it.
But then what, you ask?
An innovator, entrepreneur, or artist would call creativity “the capacity to be in the flow.” Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote a whole book on the topic.
Creativity also requires being in the imagination, which Sir Ken Robinson, in an article, calls “the ability to bring to mind things that aren’t present to our senses.”
Creativity requires that we be out of our minds. Away from known rules and existing structures. Being out of our minds requires losing track of time and space.
We must learn to play with forms. Make new connections. Risk failure, messing up, and things falling apart. Creativity is to envision something new, then brick-by-brick, stroke-by-stroke, trying to enact that vision. Sometimes the whole thing collapses.
Creativity – Opposite of Discipline & Control
Creativity requires being able to fail. And that’s why modern society and schools can be an antagonist to creativity. We hate failure. The uncertainty is maddening! We hate not knowing the outcome. In fact, many of us won’t even start a project if we aren’t guaranteed to succeed.
Remember when you were a child and you found a cardboard box? What’d you do with it? Did you make a house, a shelter, then imagine a whole scene occurring in there? Did you turn it into a computer?
Were you ever given a box of paper and it felt like a world of possibilities in a box? All you wanted was time alone so you could do something with all that paper!
See, now you’re feeling guilty for even buying the Minecraft Legos. She should be playing with a stick? Things are different today. You can’t turn back time and try to make your child play the way that you did, and with the same things you did. You might’ve had legos. But you didn’t have Minecraft. She does. Again, leverage that.
Give Minecraft Legos, Take Away Instructions
See what happens. See what she creates.
If your child is too used to being given rules and worksheets and forms (at school), then start her with baby steps. Keep the picture on the box available.
But also make sure you’re not hovering. Sometimes parents stick around to make sure the thing she’s creating will resemble perfectly the picture on the box. Let her know it’s okay for her creation to look different.
With a creativity tool like Minecraft Legos, there are multiple forms and objects that your child can create. With nearly 250 pieces, your child can create virtually anything.
When you had that cardboard box, did you want a parent hovering over your shoulder with an instruction manual? No. You needed to be alone with your imagination. You required freedom from outside voices, especially ones telling you to make sure to get that box back in the recycling. Oh, and don’t cut your hand!
You needed the freedom to create a new form from something that did not suggest in any way what you were building. There is nothing about a cardboard box that indicates a computer. Einstein figured out his theory of relativity by imagining himself riding a light-beam.
So ask her, “What would you rather do, create something with your Legos or do dishes?”
You know what she’ll choose. Then give her space. Let her build. Combine. Reconfigure. Don’t mess with her. Leave her be.
Then pour yourself a glass of wine. Or cut another sliver of brownie. You’ve earned it. Buy the Minecraft Legos and let her surprise you with her ingenuity.
Enjoy the newest episode of This is Us or Silicon Valley. Or maybe it’ll be your turn to dust off your sewing machine or paint-brushes. Perhaps the real reason to invite your child back into creativity is so that you can encourage creativity back into your life. Your life.