I’ve been engaged in myriad conversations over the past few weeks about creativity. This subject keeps coming up. Where does creativity come from? How can we encourage it in children, in ourselves as adults? Why is there a battle in education, in our homes, in the workplace between critical and creative thinking? Why do those spaces want to choose between the two—which is more rigorous, beneficial, salient? Why can’t we (as humans) young and older practice both in learning and in the wider part of our lives? Why does education (and often other aspects of our lives) strip us of our ability to see our creative selves, think creatively? I keep coming back to some of the same sensibilities. We have to undo what it is that blocks us from wonder, play: stress, excuses about time, space, money, fear.
I work with young people on how to “undo” some of that fear of creativity before they reach adulthood and can’t find that sense of wonder anymore. I work with adults (other educators/parents), to encourage, give “permission” to allow room in their lives, their student’s lives, their children’s lives to think creatively, to wonder. I watch my own children access their creative selves everyday. They remind me how it’s is done…
I typically use the funnel in the kitchen pouring liquid, grains, from one container into the next. But when my three-year-old gets a hold of the funnel he is much more imaginative. That sputtering sound I heard the other day was no trumpet but rather my three-year-old composing his best kid rendition of some unknown tune on his newly imagined funnel horn. And while I thought that horn might be the only trick he had up his sleeve that trumpet quickly became a birthday hat for his younger brother (not sure if the younger brother was thrilled about that). But you can’t have a birthday hat without birthday cake, so my three-year-old ran to the other room and brought back the small plastic containers I use to organize stuff around the house, for his pretend birthday cake, when the funnel had one more magical use, as the candle on top.
Now I will have to go back to using my funnels in that same old boring and practical way. But next time I use that funnel I’ll remember metaphor, and how even kitchen utensils have creatively secret and interesting lives of their own.
What toys? Kids find play in anything, everything.