Children are wonderfully creative creatures… until adults tell them there is a right or wrong way to do things. Then curiosity turns into finding “the right answer.”
I was a nerdy kid. I never did the whole summer camp thing, unless you call going to a college campus for a summer to take classes camp. I remember taking this one class, maybe it was Oceanography, with a bunch of people a lot older than my middle school me. The teacher asked us to define terms in our packet handed to us. If we didn’t know the terms, we were to make something up. You know, be creative. I had NO clue what these terms were, or even how to say them, so I started making up little stories for each word. I was engaged, I was having fun (I told you, I’m a bit nerdy). After we were given the time to answer them we broke into small groups. That’s when I realized I was a bit different.
“Children are wonderfully creative creatures… until adults tell them there is a right or wrong way to do things.” (Click to Tweet)
As each student went around the circle, they all tried to answer the actual question, even if they didn’t know the answer. It was as if only I heard the teacher’s instructions. When it came to my turn I covered up my writing. This really nice high school aged girl leaned over, “Do you want to share?” I shook my head no and mumbled something about not knowing the answer. I spent the remainder of the class frantically adding “serious” answers to my packet. I actively covered or scribbled out my imagined definitions.
I spent my adolescence battling these two sides of me, the curious reflective/explorer/creator and the must get all the right answers/A plus plus student. If I could go back I’d cuddle younger Carrie and tell her how awesome it is to have curiosity and imagination. And do everything in my power to celebrate those small moments of creative, curious expression.
How can you infuse curiosity into your life?
Celebrate the questions.
“Why? Why? Why?” I remember my niece and nephew saying that as children over and over and over again. “Why?” It was enough sometimes to want to poke my own ear drums out. Yet it is SUCH an important stage in our lives. We absorb and learn so much from asking those questions and being curious.
Just this week I learned that chlorures means chloride, you know, salt. I also learned that microwaving brown sugar with a wet towel softens it. If I have a question, I look it up! I LOVE the internet for this very reason. It’s so much easier than trying to find this in a library (especially when you’re in the middle of some quality baking, why Hello, chocolate chip cookies).
Do you tune out or tune in to your own questions? Curiosity fuels creativity. Try listening for your questions, they could lead you to interesting answers!
Celebrate the journey of discovery in finding the answers.
As soon as we are told we have to have AN answer we lose the love of discovery. What about all of the many things we can learn along the way? I could probably create a small book of lessons learned in my journey of building the Artist Strong website. ALL of those new bits of information have informed how I’ll rebuild my artist site, CarrieBrummer.com, which is currently under construction. It will also inform any future decisions about design for web based adventures. Even between days of frustrated tears, I had fun. I’m proud of myself for trying it all out.
Be hands on.
When something breaks, do you just throw it out? Have you thought about taking it apart to see how it works? What about taking out some yarn and knitting needles to try to knit? Have you used your grill before, or do you always let your spouse do the grilling? The more we are willing to risk trying something new, the more we can discover the things we really enjoy.
Risk. Trial. Error. Repeat. It’s called… creativity! I have a bookshelf filled with books on new artist materials, jewelry beading, knitting, clay for sculpture, wood blocks for carving, linoleum for print making…. I get to play, try out new artist techniques and have fun. Saturday I disconnected from the internet. It was awesome. It gave me room to doodle from the scrap of wrapping paper I kept, work on stringing a pearl necklace, and baking some cookies.
“Risk. Trial. Error. Repeat. It’s called… Creativity!” (Tweet Me)
Explore your neighborhood; your town; your state; your country. Create a scavenger hunt for the little things you never noticed before. Fresh eyes offer fresh perspectives.
Adults are wonderfully creative, curious, creatures… until other adults tell them there is a right or wrong way to do things.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: What is ONE step YOU will take today towards embracing your curiosity? I want to know. Share in the comments below.
Love this post! I guess my homework assignment today will be not to risk an error and see where it leads.
Thanks Patrick! I really appreciate it 🙂 Sounds like great homework to me.
Carrie, what a lovely post you’ve written! All so true and worth considering. I myself am an explorer, a wanderer, and a rebellior when it comes to conventional thinking. I’m always looking for new things and places even though leading a busy life. Still, it’s not always easy to bring this creativity to my students because of all the things one should go through with them. (At the moment I teach English in middle school.) Thank you for reminding me, I’ll keep this in mind!
Anne I’m so glad to know fellow educators are reading Artist Think. You are right it is SO hard with all kinds of content to get through with students to balance the demands of standards and deadlines for content delivery with the magic and enthusiasm curiosity can bring.
You are a special breed of teacher working with MS kids! Bravo and thank you for what you do. We need more explorers/wanderers/rebels modeling how to live to our young people. 🙂 Thank you for reading Artist Think and sharing your thoughts with us all.