EdPost: Debilitating Creativity by Offering Creativity

It’s ridiculously important to respect that the creative process, cycle and experience is different for every single person who engages in it. This includes both children and adults, both experienced and newcomers.

For myself, I can’t just DRAW you something. It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of studying, exploring, and trying. I often hear at workshops, when the presenter suggests, “You can DRAW what you think!”, which is supposed to engage the creative people in the room, that it’s perfect for someone like me. In fact, I should be the person to draw and design the ideas that the group is working on! People sometimes argue over having me in their group.

And then … disappointment!

Because – I can’t draw on command.

There are major issues with assigning roles like this. I think it is time we start asking ourselves what our intentions are. If the intention is just classroom management, it’s time to dig deeper and consider why the students aren’t engaging.

I wish I could, but I can’t.

And, just like I can’t draw on command, I also can’t draw every single thing in the known universe. Kids? I’m getting there. Animals? Depends on which one. Houses? I can do them in a variety of very whimsical approaches.

There tends to be this myth tagged to creativity and creative, artistic people, and it can be debilitating. This is something we need to remember with our own children and students.

It is important to push (and be pushed) outside of comfort zones, but it is not okay – in my mind – to label someone as creative and expect them to create on command. Sometimes, it won’t come. Sometimes, it takes hours. And sometimes, it comes in a flash.

chalk-girl-1432392.jpgThis is an issue with many of … no, most of … our art classes. We give the kids 30 minutes to do a predetermined project on a Friday afternoon, we pray they will behave appropriately, and we threaten the art period. Conversely, we might offer an “open ended” project, but then add a timeline, and for some kids, this just won’t work. So they get a C, and they stop loving art, and they’ve lost one of the most powerful tools to express themselves. This isn’t really okay, is it?

I think we need to build a greater culture of respect around creativity. It isn’t some kitschy thing that we can pick up at the dollar store or on Pinterest. My artwork shouldn’t be created from a menu: you pick the style, the medium, the colours, etc. That’s not me being creative. That’s me filling an order.

The pressure to perform on command can be a terrifying, stressful, disengaging experience for students and for our own kids. We need to keep this in mind when we present them with creative opportunities.


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