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Creativity and Child’s Play

People will sometimes say to me, “I wish I was creative.” We all start out creative; a child’s imagination is pure creativity. The problem is the creativity gets educated out of the child. 

A child will approach an adult with some fantastic story and the adult immediately shoots it down with, “Oh that’s not true, you made that up” when probably a better response would be, “Did you make that up, that’s really a cleaver story.” (Typo left in place, see comments below.) 

Children need to be taught the difference between fact and fantasy, but encouraged to be creative because what is writing a novel but making stuff up and writing it down. In other words child’s play. 

In the above video, (Which is not only informative, but also entertaining. ) Ken Robinson describes creativity simply as, “Having original thought that is of value.” He also talks about a need for change in schools, universities, and in industry, where creativity is discouraged. 

I also recently learned that cursive hand writing is no longer taught in schools. If nothing else a child needs to learn how to sign their own name in cursive script. I am hearing stories of teens and twenty year olds only able to print their name. A person cannot go through life without signing their name on documents, checks, etc. If schools won’t teach this it is up to parents and grand-parents.

The above video can also be viewed on Ted.com


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Reader Comments (14)

A child will approach an adult with some fantastic story and the adult immediately shoots it down with, “Oh that’s not true, you made that up” when probably a better response would be, “Did you make that up, that’s really a cleaver story.”

That "better" response is still a rather "cutting" remark, don't you agree? ;-)

January 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterErik

By saying, "Did you make that up?" Lets the child know that you know it is fantasy, not reality." But then praising the child by saying, "That's a really clever story." Gives them credit for their creativity. "That's a clever story, did you make that up all by yourself?" might be a better phrasing.

January 11, 2014 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Abraham Maslow wrote something to the effect that there is more creativity in first-rate soup and second-rate painting.

January 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterP. Fennell

If creativity can start in childhood it for sure keeps living through the whole life, isn't it.

January 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJodee

So Dave, Tell us all, did you make up stories when young? You are now the master teller How you come up with all the topics that you do, amazes me and I am sure many of your readers. Is this hereditary I wonder? I know you said that your Dad was quite a lad in his time How about Mom or any relatives, where did all this come from Dave?

January 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump

"That's a really clever story."

Yes, that story about how you hacked zombies to bits with a large butcher's knife, that's a very cleaver story indeed!

At my kids' school they still teach cursive. I think it's 2nd grade, and they don't allow kids to write their name in cursive until they've properly learned all the letters, because they don't want kids to develop a habit of bad (untrained) penmanship. Because of this, younger kids all want to learn cursive "like the big kids", and love to write in cursive after they've learned.

They also encourage creativity; their classical methodology includes the discipline of progymnasmata, which is basically learning how to tell good stories.

January 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRubeRad

Why do I get the feeling people are "Taking the Piss."

January 14, 2014 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

That what having a blog is all about Dave. At least YOU are still alive and able to take it.

January 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump

Hi Dave,
what you are describing is sadly another aspect of the dumbing down of society.

Through no fault of their making I saw before retiring youngsters lacking cognitive and intellectual skills and abilities, and those with them are mostly dependant on the battery not running out.

This link is from an online satirical site from the U.K. that bases it's articles on current events in the news which reinforces the point.


I don't think there is any "piss being taken" Dave, it's an example of not grasping the subject and being able to contribute to the discussion.

January 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKeith. British Columbia

I believe you can get through life just fine without knowing how to sign your name in cursive; in fact I see very few people that sign their name in cursive. Most of us just scribble something that may have evolved from what was originally cursive, but now is just our unique scribble. Most signatures are not legible. Also, some people print their signatures very carefully. That is acceptable as well, in a legal sense, as far as i know.

I don't think there's anything particular to fear about kids not learning cursive. People are always afraid of losing this and losing that, but I think it may be more that the ways kids/people express their creativity are simply changing. Losing cursive may not mean that there is a net reduction in the ways people create, we are also constantly gaining incredible new media of creativity.

It's a very interesting thought about recognizing that a child has made something up, but doing so in a positive way instead of negative. I like that. As long as the child understands when truth and accuracy are required, and when creativity is appropriate.

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTroy Smith

Fix the cleaver typo and you'll feel better, Dave.

January 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPisstaken for a human

Whoops, that went over my head like a bad comb over. What a hatchet job.

January 21, 2014 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Thanks for linking that Dave. Been some great talks from TED, but I'd missed that one. I think he also wanted to be a stand-up man; which he does quite well.

January 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

I have a nephew that is 5 now and I have been struck by the change in this creativity in the last couple of years. It is not that he is less creative, he actually might be more creative, he certainly spends more time drawing. It is that his creativity has become more and more derivative of popular culture at large and the things that are acceptable to his peer group. A year or two ago he drew his own characters and made up his own stories and I did my best to keep up with his fantasy worlds. Now he draws trademarked super heroes and movie characters and asks me questions about these characters as he does his best to keep up with his peer group in knowledge of these trademarked fantasy worlds.

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNick
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