Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What is creativity?

When me and junior play with our Lego blocks (or drawing), it is not hard to guess who is more "creative". When I make vehicles, they look like the ones we see on the roads. When he makes vehicles, they surely wont be seen on any road (correction: they are not seen on any road now). His vehicles are the outrageous ones - wheels on top, on the side, engine on the top or somewhere else...

Even in the way he uses the bricks there is a lesson. I, for instance, am "bound" by the convention that a "telescope" piece is a telescope (it can be a "gun"). Or that flags must only be on flagpoles (why not on hats?). Or axes are axes (they can be used as "hands").

The difference, of course, is the worldview. I, with my superior (purely time wise) experience am shackled by what I have already seen. He, with his lesser experience, has no such restrictions. And thats exactly how it happens progressively - we hem in childrens creativity with notions of "reality".

So, creativity, is all about not succumbing to a worldview - rather it is about challenging the worldview. Which is easy when none exists. And when the worldview in front of you is like the dam holding up your thoughts, how do you break through? Or how to continue to challenge the worldview, once you have created that in your mind or in your childs mind? I dont have answers yet, but hopefully I have asked the right question...

9 comments:

VnP said...

Wonderful post.

I have spent a lot of time wondering where in life do we lose that ability of free association and creativity. I have a firm belief that it starts with the schools. It gives a 'conventional' view of everything. I believe that kids hate conventions (like you've pointed out in this post).

Also it helps us, grown ups, to kind of go mad at times. Like go surreal. Acting crazy is, essentially, to go for a 'rejected-by-majority' view of life. It can be fun and really exhilarating. Also it helps us 'unrestrict' ourselves from day-to-day norms.

"Sometimes I wish paper ships could carry people. Then we could've all set sail when our spirits were as high as our creativity."

Connected..Yet Disconnected said...

Interesting post..

I think we can maintain that creativity by not judging it and allowing them to do whatever they like to...

Prats said...

I totally agree...
and this is so true everywhere, and when I look at corporate world I find it so relevant... i see organizations going gaga over ppl with experience and then criticizing them for not being innovative but not having enough propensity to experiment with the thoughts/creativity of non experienced and unshackled brains....

So true!!!

Ramesh said...

Guess one way to measure this could be as Malcom Gladwell - says in the book "Outliers' - divergence test. Interstingly he says write down as many different uses that you can think of for following objects 1)brick 2) blanket

Guess most will come up with easy/obvious uses. Maybe most juniors will come up with great ideas !!

NGiD said...

One of the biggest shackles that we grown-ups have is the need to judge (judge instantly and judge everything)

If creativity can be defined as connecting unrelated objects to create something new... then the child is restricted by the stuff he can refer to from his past experience... but has an advantage of un-disciplined thinking.
If we were trained to think like a child, our creative out-put would be vastly superior to the kid...

neelakantan said...

Great comment Ngid! Training to think like a child is so paradoxical no? After all the "hard work" in getting to think like an adult? :)

Yes, Ramesh, surely yes, but to that I would add NGiDs comment as well...

sunson said...

Wonderful post indeed. Very intriguing.

Arun

mads said...

Reminds me of this story I'd heard once.
The Americans spent millions of dollars on research to create a pen that would work in spaceships. To combat all the problems the ink would face when flowing etc.
The Japanese simply used a pencil.

José said...

Hi,

Although it's probably difficult to create something not related to what we see, I think that the function that we usually attribute to a certain object, can be creatively changed by doing some adapting.
Let's hope that we leave a decent future for our children.

Best regards,

José