The Power of Creativity

When talking about creativity, Steve Jobs once remarked, “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.”

Creativity is sometimes thought of as an artistic skill, but at its core it’s about making connections. These connections then lead to new, original ideas. Though we all have the ability to be creative, it’s children ages 3 through 6 who do it best. Before the standardization that school brings and the natural desire to want to conform to the social norms of their peers, they are at a creative peak.

So why is creativity important for learning?

Creative thinkers use their ability to make connections to break down old ideas and come up with new perspectives and ideas. This is incredibly useful for problem-solving, even on rigid standardized tests! These creative thinkers are the opposite of black-and-white thinkers. People who think in terms of black-and-white are only able to see two options, whereas creative thinkers exist in the gray area and are comfortable with ambiguities. Within this gray area, originality blossoms.

In addition to ingenuity, creativity leads to developing a deeper understanding of concepts. This is useful in learning about the world, relationships, and even math and reading comprehension. Creativity involves looking closely at a concept rather than just “knowing” it as a certainty. 

This happens with “why” questions:

“Why is the sky blue?” “Why is my sister crying?” “Why do we subtract the smaller number from the bigger number?” “Why did the boy give the mouse a cookie?” 

These “why” questions often lead to “what ifs”:

“What if the sky was green?” “What if I give her toy back, then would she stop crying?” “What if I did it the other way?” “What if the boy hadn’t given the cookie to the mouse?” 

In this line of thinking, connections are being made between objects, which sometimes may not appear to be connected, but can be in some way! Creative thinkers apply their curiosity and imagination to find new connections between pieces of information. With this approach, they understand that there is a level of interconnectivity amongst everything. It’s the difference between memorizing a set of directions and learning to understand why each step leads to the next and wondering if there was another way to go about it. Overall, the more connections made between pieces of information increases the level of understanding.

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Creativity is also a valuable skill for self-expression. Being able to express our thoughts, emotions, and ideas helps us to communicate and process new information. Words are hard to use for children and adults alike when it comes to communicating how we feel, and creativity enables us to communicate in other ways. For example, a child’s drawing of their home can contain multitudes of information on how they see themselves, their family, and their place within the family and the home. This information is embedded in the colors they use, the placement of objects within the picture, and what is omitted. 

Play is where creativity and imagination run wild! During play, children are expressing and processing thoughts, emotions, and ideas. Creative play lets children test out new ideas and try on different roles. This helps with social development, as this self-expression helps children to see others’ perspectives and does a tremendous amount of work in developing social-emotional skills (which we’ve talked before about)! 

Put simply, black-and-white thinkers see things as a straight line: this is how you get from point A to point B. Creative thinkers see the straight line, and then think up a whole web of other lines and determine which one would work best in various scenarios. Creativity is essential to the academic and social development of children, which is why we seek to nurture it in our students.

In our next post, we will explore how to promote this creativity with children! If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below or send them to us at info@lileggheads.com