Dr. Julie Thompson-Dobkin is proud to share a guest post from Ramiro Barbuzano, Jr., Director of Education at Child Creativity Lab in Santa Ana, California. Child Creativity Lab’s mission is to foster the next generation of critical thinkers, problem solvers, innovators, and leaders through hands-on creativity enhancing exploration. The work at CCL aligns with The Kant Institute’s mission of fostering education through the arts, following the motto“sapere aude”, to act not as a teacher, but as a stimulator of critical thinking.
From a young age, we are taught success comes to those who possess the right mix of ingredients…a handful of passion, mixed with a whole lot of determination, and of course, a pinch of luck. However, in today’s world, with every year that passes it becomes more apparent a vital element is missing in this recipe for success.
Creativity, simply put is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Every species on our planet uses creativity to boost success and ultimately enhance survive. For example, studies have shown that dolphins use a large portion of their neocortex, an area of the brain responsible for innovation and creativity, maybe even more than humans.”
Unfortunately, as children grow older and adapt to society, creativity is at the mercy of several social constraints making it difficult to preserve. Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” In the first 6 years of adolescence, children’s brains are like sponges, absorbing bits of information that form the building blocks for basic problem solving skills. However, in the coming years, peers, family, their environment, etc. will constantly challenge their creativity. Sadly, creativity isn’t as robust as other characteristics like determination for example. When a peer says, “you will never be an astronaut,” a child with a strong passion might use these words as fuel to strengthen their determination. However, when a peer says, “I think that is a dumb idea,” children are more easily discouraged and may shy away from using creative problem solving.
In my short time at Child Creativity Lab, I have witnessed first-hand the power that creativity unleashes on the developing mind. The easiest way to harness this creativity is to accept the fact that sometimes you will fail which is a very hard concept to swallow in this competitive society. However, the earlier a child learns that confidence stems from both successes and failures, the easier it becomes to be creative.
Steve Jobs said, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” If we can all reach a level where natural creativity flows without judgment, I think only then will our species welcome major breakthroughs.