Thursday, October 13, 2016

My Creative Child and His Story of Hats

Recently, my middle child related a story on the way home. 

His form teacher had instructed everyone to make/decorate a hat for a Hat Party and my son had completely forgotten about the assignment until the morning itself when the teacher walked into class. 

While the teacher was walking around class examining and commenting on everyone else's creations, my boy decided he had to create one. All his classmates had either colourful and/or glittery store-bought hats with added embellishments or home-made but still colourful and/or glittery hats with decorations. 

He did have any fancy materials with him. So how could his hat stand out amongst all these fancy, glittery, colourful tall and big hats? 

Then an idea struck him! 


All around him were either the usual size hats or very big hats. He decided his hat shall be the smallest of all! In fact, why stop at one? So he made THREE! 

One Small hat,
an even Smaller hat, and 
one Smallest hat of all. So they  could all nest within, just like a Russian Nesting Doll. 

The small white hat sitting neatly on his head caught his teacher's attention. When she picked it up, she was surprised to find a smaller one on his head. She picked that one up too and was amused to find an even smaller one staying perfectly still on his head! By then a big crowd was formed around his desk, everyone trying to catch a glimpse at the unusual hat.

Chip had folded all three hats swiftly with his origami skills. He scribbled 'Hi' on the smallest hat and cut 'frays' on two edges to serve as 'claws' so this tiny hat will not slip off his hair. 

I must admit that I was beaming with pride at his creativity. But I was not a bit surprised. 

One of the most valuable qualities he possesses is his creativity, which he exhibits on a daily basis. I can see his creativity at work through his actions, words and thoughts.

Very often, I have come across parents and even educators who think that creativity can only be presented through some form of Art and that a creative person must be an artistic person.

That is, in fact, a very narrow definition. How do you define creativity? What does a creative child mean to you?

A creative child thinks differently from others. Not just through the way he demonstrates his creativity in his drawings or artwork.

This hat creation incident was not the first, and will not be the last, example of how he would approach a situation in a different manner from people around him.

My boys play creative games with each other on a daily basis. When they were little, I used to initiate these games with them, but a few years ago, it has become so ingrained in them that they would just spin-off their own creative games. I am a firm believer that creativity can be nurtured and the earlier we start, the easier it is to nurture this valuable quality. 

Unfortunately, it is not a myth that the schooling experience can really stifle creativity as I also wrote about last month. Chip's form teacher last year was less appreciative of my creative child's creativity. For instance, during 'silent time' and everyone brought out books to read, my son decided to draw. When questioned by the teacher, his response of 'You said to be silent, but did not say we must read. Why can't I just draw quietly?' was viewed as rude, disobedient and even rebellious. When everyone in class would just accept the teacher's instructions to do this and that without questioning, Chip would often ask 'why?' which was sometimes viewed as disruptive (instead of creative or curious).

I have a major problem with the teacher's views and inability to appreciate creativity, though I could understand his need to manage the class.

While the creative child may share ideas which are different from others, they are often great at generating new ideas and initiating healthy debates. My creative child also has a real wicked sense of humour! Just imagine how lively the discussions in class could be if the teachers could identify the Creative Thinkers and tap on their creativity for fresh opinions and different perspectives.

In order to not stifle creativity, and to be able to encourage kids to be creative, parents and educators must first learn to identify a Creative thinker and not confuse them with a Gifted Learner or a High Achiever.

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2 comments:

homeschoolsg said...

Very impressive how he came up with an idea on the spot! And his response to his teacher on the silent reading... Bwahahaha

Seriously, I understand your point on school stifling the kids creativity. I do worry that after being moulded in a box for 6 whole years, they forget to think out of the box.

Domesticgoddess said...

homeschoolsg, it is not that they forget to think out of the box, but they would have lost their abilities to do so after being instructed repeatedly to follow instructions and think like everyone else. Which is why I work especially hard at home to continue to fuel my kids' curiosity and hone their critical thinking and creative thinking skills. Ironically, these higher order thinking skills are tested and required to ace Primary 5 & 6 curriculum but kids are not taught!

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