Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WSJ: What Makes Kids Creative

Researchers believe growth in the time kids spend on computers and watching TV, plus a trend in schools toward rote learning and standardized testing, are crowding out the less structured activities that foster creativity. Mark Runco, a professor of creative studies and gifted education at the University of Georgia, says students have as much creative potential as ever, but he would give U.S. elementary, middle and high schools "a 'D' at best" on encouraging them. "We're doing a very poor job, especially before college, with recognizing and supporting creativity," he says. Many parents are stepping into the breach by nurturing their kids' creative skills. They are challenging them to generate new ideas or encouraging them to notice problems in the world around them and research possible solutions. By tolerating "wrong" answers or allowing their children to live in a fantasy world for a while, parents can put off the emphasis on skill-building and achievement, researchers say. ... Some parents are signing their children up for programs designed to foster creativity. One such program, Destination ImagiNation. ... Similar programs include Odyssey of the Mind, and Future Problem-Solving Program International. ... Parents also need to refrain from judging kids' ideas, even if they seem crazy or naive. ... It is best to avoid paying too much attention to the outcome of kids' creative efforts, says Dr. Kaufman, the professor. "The more emphasis put on the final product—'It's so beautiful I'm going to frame it and tell my friends about it,' " he says, the greater is "the risk that the kid is going to do pictures for the praise, and not for the enjoyment." Instead, emphasize effort over results. ... Raising a creative child can be taxing. Such kids tend to have above-average "spontaneity, boldness, courage, freedom and expressiveness," Dr. Kim says. So they sometimes behave like little anarchists. [15 December 2010 - Wall Street Journal - More]

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