Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Your Child Is A Creative Genius

Every parent I've ever met knows her child is a creative genius. Sometimes they come right out and say it, but most often I see it in their sense of awe as they share the stories, anecdotes about their kids. Sure, they most often frame it as "cute," but you can see it in their faces, in the tone of their voices, in the wide-eyed enthusiasm with which they talk about their kids that they are genuinely impressed and even amazed. One of the best parts of my job as a teacher in a cooperative preschool, in fact, is that I'm not just surrounded by these genius kids, but also by their parents who tend to be "turned on" by their children's genius. And as they spend time in the classroom working alongside me as assistant teachers they invariably get to know the other children and, in turn, become amazed by the creative genius of not just their own child, but all the children.

One could argue, of course, that this is just the parenting instinct at work. Certainly they aren't all creative geniuses. Certainly, true genius is as rare among preschoolers as it is among adult where it is found in a relatively small percentage of us. That may seem like the most likely explanation, but it's not, at least according scientists working for NASA who have found that a full 98 percent of the 4 and 5 year olds they tested fell into the category of "creative genius," while only two percent of adults do. And lest you think that this is just an isolated incident, the results have been replicated over and over again.

Sadly, these scientists have also found through longitudinal research that the percentage of creative geniuses falls to 30 percent by the time the kids are 10, 12 percent at 15, and a mere two percent among adults. The scientists who performed the research assert that it doesn't have to be that way, that virtually all of us could go through life as creative geniuses, but that our abilities have been systematically deadened by traditional schooling. I won't go that far. I believe there is something about the structure of society at large that tends to dumb us down with or without schooling, but it's something worth thinking about.

Here is a short TED talk by George Land, one of the authors of the study:

From them time I was a young man, I've always said that I didn't care how I spent my days just so long as I got to spend my time amongst "great brains." I did my time in academia and business, but it wasn't until I discovered my own child's genius that I realized that preschool is where the geniuses really are and that, perhaps more than anything else, is why I've stayed.

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