Tuesday, March 30, 2010

7 Sure-Fire Ways To Squelch Creativity (And An Owain Update)

I recently came across this list from the book The Creative Spirit by the Daniel Goleman, Paul Kaufman, and Michael Ray. I normally like to do my own writing around here, but it was such a great reminder for both teachers and parents that I wanted to share. The book is based on a PBS series from over a decade ago -- I might just have to see if I can find that in the PBS archives.

According to the authors, these are the most common ways that adults discourage creativity in children. To me it reads like a list of the things we do when we aren't putting the child's agenda ahead of our own:

Surveillance — Hovering over kids, making them feel that they're constantly being watched while they are working . . . under constant observation, the risk-taking, creative urge goes underground and hides.
Evaluation — When we constantly make kids worry about how they are doing, they ignore satisfaction with their accomplishments.
Rewards — The excessive use of prizes . . . deprives a child of the intrinsic pleasure of creative activity. 
Competition — Putting kids in a win-lose situation, where only one person can come out on top . . . negates the process [that] children progress at their own rates.
Over-control — Constantly telling kid how to do things . . . often leaves children feeling like their originality is a mistake and any exploration a waste of time.
Restricting choice — Telling children which activities they should engage in instead of letting them follow where their curiosity and passion lead . . . again restricts active exploration and experimentation that might lead to creative discovery and production.
Pressure — Establishing grandiose expectations for a child's performance . . . often ends up instilling aversion for a subject or activity. . . .  Unreasonably high expectations often pressure children to perform and conform within strictly prescribed guidelines, and, again, deter experimentation, exploration, and innovation.  Grandiose expectations are often beyond children's developmental capabilities.

Owain update
Owain’s dad Alex reports mostly good news and everyone is hoping that Owain can finally go home tomorrow. This is how Owain puts it on his CaringBridge page:
"Well, I got the blood transfusion, and my cheeks are a bit pinker and I am feeling a bit better. I woke up and I saw some chips, and I was like 'oh, chips!' I am eating some chips. Nothing much else is going on. I'm not doing much . . . I am reading my Star Wars Lego Dictionary. I hope I can come home tomorrow."

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Maya Catching Butterflies said...

Tom this is such a good reminder. Yesterday I let the girls paint which I rarely ever do. I don't like the mess. I often stay close to make sure paint isn't getting on the counters or the floor. I correct them when I feel like they're getting a little too carried away with the amount of paint on their brushes. I think I need to find a better place for them to this activity. I think they will feel more relaxed and so will I. Now I feel bad for being such a helicopter mom. Shame on me.

(V.Kerr) School Time Adventures said...

Really a great reminder. I have been a lot more conscious of when River and I do projects to allow him to make it the way HE wants. I think as a parent/educator you have certain expectations for each activity, learning opportunity, and to be able to let those go to allow the child to get out of it what they need is so crucial!

Play for Life said...

And that is why we teach the way we do! Sounds like an interesting book. I'd like to get my hands on a copy.

P.S. On Monday I joined 'Owain's Army' and left a message in his guestbook. Now first thing each morning I check his journal updates. Fingers crossed he'll be home soon. Oh and by the way ... today I am going off to give blood. I'm embarrassed to say that at 47 years of age this will be my first time ... I know, I know, I'm so ashamed ... BUT today I will and for that I'm feeling really good ... While I'm there I'm going to enquire about the bone marrow register too!

Thanks Tom ... THANKS OWAIN!


Deborah Stewart said...

Excellent points all around. I worry often about teachers using extrinsic rewards to get kids to perform. I say often, they need to do it because it feels good or right - this way it will become a part of who they are and they will do it whether someone is watching or not.

Teacher Tom said...

@Donna . . . I saw your post on Owain's page. You're so kind. He got to go home today. No cancer cells in his blood, but still 3 more years of chemo . . . I'm so happy you gave blood. I'll make sure to tell Owain that you were inspired by him. Or you could! Thanks.

Noah said...

Oh wow Tom - this is so great - thanks for sharing.
And thanks for sharing about Owain too - great that he's gone home - I hope his chemo goes ok. A good friend just found out that her bone marrow disorder just got upped to a step away from leukemia - what is going on?!
Thanks for the rays of hope, I'm receiving them in the dark tunnel of finals...

Maria Wynne - Casa Maria's Creative Learning Zone said...

Thanks for sharing. It does sound like my type of book. I do agree that sometimes educators who exert many rules, diminish that child’s creativity. Accept and encourage the offbeat and unusual!

Anonymous said...

When he isn't shoving books in my face I try to leave my son alone to let him explore and play on his own. Not that I don't want to be on the ground with him, but I want him to build things with his blocks that are of his own creation. I've caught myself re-assembling things on him because they aren't structurally sound. Sometimes because it drives me nuts to watch him do it "wrong", while others it is because the tantrums he throws when they fall down.

Launa Hall said...

Another book for my "must read" book list! (Oh, my, this list is getting long!)

Marla McLean, Atelierista said...

Right on point! I'll have to check out this book. Sometimes you need to gather your allies in print. One of my favorite articles is by Alfie Kohn, 5 reasons to stop saying good job. I pass it out often. The list you posted would be a great addition. Thanks.