Children are born creative geniuses; however, they are systematically dumbed down as they are taught to use divergent and convergent thinking simultaneously.
Children are born creative geniuses, but something smothers their inner flame of innovative and inquisitive minds! Teaching our children to do both kinds of thinking (divergent and convergent) at the same time creates a dichotomy, causing neurons to fight with each other, thus diminishing the power of the brain.
“Children are born creative geniuses.”
“Children are creative geniuses!” confirms the study where Dr. Land and Dr. Jarman tested a diverse group of 1,600 American children, starting when they were 4-5 years old. The study lasted for ten years, and these are the Imaginative Thinking NASA Test Results:
- 4-5 years: 98% of preschoolers scored at genius level
- 10 years: 30% scored creative geniuses
- 15 years: 12 %
- adults: less than < 2 %
These findings are astonishing!
What happens to our creativity as we mature?
- 84% rank high in creativity in kindergarten
- 10% rank high in creativity in grade 2
Reference: Robert McGarvey “Creative Thinking” USAIR, June 1990, p. 36
So, are people born creative, or is creativity a learned skill that comes from our experience?
Studies have shown that we are all born divergent creative thinkers. But something smothers our ingenuity and creativity as time ticks by.
The type of thinking we are taught to use might be an answer to our question.
Two kinds of thinking use two different parts of the brain:
Divergent thinking is when we use imagination, creativity, and innovativeness to generate new possibilities and create new futures. Such thinking typically occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing manner so that many ideas are generated in an emergent cognitive fashion.
An inquisitive mind stokes the inner flame and intrinsic desire to learn, develop and grow.
Convergent thinking, on the other hand, takes place when we apply knowledge, use judgment, and make decisions while testing, criticizing, and evaluating.
What Kills Creativity?
Teaching our children to do both kinds of thinking (divergent and convergent) simultaneously creates a dichotomy, causing neurons to fight with each other, thus diminishing the power of the brain, suggests Dr. George Land’s 2011 TedX Talk.
“WE ARE BEING SYSTEMATICALLY DUMBED DOWN.”
Full study here.
How to Nurture Divergent Thinking:
Encourage work based on Real Experiences
Encourage work based on real experiences and observations. Once they observe (look and learn), they will remember the experiences the most! Offer them to roll their sleeves and do the doing, embracing hands-on learning.
Encourage Imagination, not Imitation.
Imagination is the unique ability that makes us human, apart from animals who can merely imitate. Offer children plenty of opportunities to imagine things and practice being creative.
Offer a child to Pay careful Attention to their Senses
Ask them awareness questions about what we are touching, seeing, hearing, smelling, and tasting. The more senses the children utilize, the richer the experience.
Motivate a Child with Open Questions
An open question has more than one answer, and such thinking generates new possibilities. Allow children to express themselves.
Encourage Hands-on Experimentation as Learning
Encourage hands-on experimentation as learning, and don’t do it for them! Instead of showing how something is done, ask them to try other ways to see if it will work. Children gain confidence when they learn from hands-on experience. We do not want to smother their innate desire to figure things out.
Be an Observer, not a Critic
Listen to your child, do not judge, criticize, or point to mistakes. The Montessori method has a built-in control of error that allows a child to self-correct if needed without an adult’s intervention or deprecation.
Offer Freedom of Movement and Freedom of Choice
Providing freedom of movement and freedom of choice encourages children to be decision-makers. Offer them an option in the material and the workspace: do they want to do it on the floor mat or the table?m Do they want to stay inside or bring the lesson outdoors?
Present Plenty of Opportunities for Practice!
With practice, they improve their techniques, making the hard stuff easy to prevent discouragement or loss of interest. Make sure that the learning is challenging (not boring) and straightforward enough to avoid total frustration.
Encourage Creative Problem-Solving Skills
Encourage children to come up with many different solutions to a problem. This thinking opens the mind in various directions and tests the brain’s ability to shift perspective on existing information.
Other Culprits of a Decline in Divergent Thinking Capabilities
What other possible reasons do you think are responsible for the huge drop in divergent thinking ability as we grow older? When people’s underlying capabilities are not being challenged, when we are locked into jobs, titles, or situations that are boring, and the lack of opportunities for creative expression may be largely responsible for the plummet in divergent thinking as we mature.
However, does this excuse us when we teach in ways that are entangled with extrinsic motivation, rewarding copying, and mimicking rather than showing little ones the strategies that highly creative people use when they think?
Robert McGarvey “Creative Thinking” USAIR, June 1990, p. 36.
Glasgow, A conference in March, 2005 by the Scottish Book Trust.
National Literacy Trust 2008 (UK).
Listen to YouTube talk: “Do schools today kill creativity?” by Ken Robinson.
For More Montessori Philosophy …
See here Avoid Judgment and Empty Praise Montessori Principle.
Also, see here Learn Through Creation, Not Consumption.
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