Following the piece I wrote on children’s self-care ability, I would like to share with you here my views on creativity.
 
Creativity stems from originality. A creative person has a natural urge to create. In my opinion, nurturing creativity should start early. Whether creativity is successfully developed depends on whether the child has the ability to think independently. That’s why self-care ability and creativity are not unrelated.



Experiential learning
 
Nowsdays, parents enrolling children to “one sport and one art” is a common sight. Attaining grade 8 piano has become part of a basic to-do list for a primary student. Many “monster parents” even enroll their kids in a series of courses, however, these practises are outdated according to studies on child education. High-level self-care ability and creativity cannot be attained through a “monster school”. As parents, have we tried to put ourselves in our kids’ shoes and understand what they want? Have we offered them opportunities to choose? Have we been walking by their side or leading them on an enforced path? We should not blindly believe commercial activities and advertisements. Neither should we unceasingly engage our kids in tiresome work. Instead, we should communicate more with them and understand their needs. More importantly, we should guide and inspire them so that they, with the understanding that creativity is infinite, would not simply focus on pursuing high scores in examinations.
 
We should give our kids more opportunities to have “experiential learning” as early as possible. That is to say, we should let them learn through daily life and enhance environmental elements to stimulate their senses, including sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch and the sense of spacing, thus nurturing their independent thinking ability, self-care ability and creativity. Life education is a good method as it has a modelling function. Parents should practise what they preach; and unlike classroom teaching, they should imperceptibly influence their kids by explaining and teaching through arts, culture and games.
 
Flexibility to nurture kids’ creativity
 
So how do we develop creativity? Simply allow children more flexibility to put their abilities into full play, give them more opportunities to get in touch with nature, encourage them to create beyond imagination and let them draw as they wish. Don’t choose colours for them and comment that theirs are monotone. We should not impose our views or standards on them and constrain their creativity in one way or another, for example, by telling them to draw in multiple colours and from different angles. If a child chooses to draw using a single colour, it doesn’t necessarily mean they lack creativity. Perhaps, the child simply wants to express his/her emotions through a single colour and a single pattern. If confined by imposed perspectives, can the child really draw from different angles? This is not creativity training.
 
Learn to stand back and first observe how children play a song, recite a verse, or with what colours the handicraft is made with. Only after this, offer options to make them aware of the concept that “All roads lead to Rome”. Since children may not initially grasp this proverb, we should practise what we preach to let them realise that there are a great many choices in this world. They do not have to follow their parents’ or teachers’ views. Instead they can have their own unique ideas. If children grow up in an environment that is conducive to creativity, creativity will always be a part of their lives and it will never be killed by “systematic behaviour”.
 
With the capacity for independent thinking, we will have ideals; with creativity, we will have a splendid life. These two skills give children a base for their future to face and cope with the rapidly changing world. As the saying goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Following this philosophy, providing kids with a nurturing environment may prove to be more beneficial than training them to get high scores in examinations or teaching them to draw pictures that win awards in competitions. These accomplishments may not truly reflect a kid’s creativity.
 
To conclude, self-care ability and creativity are complementary to each other. In fact, they are essential for facing today’s ever-changing challenges and managing pressure. I believe kids with self-care ability and creativity will make a competitive future generation.


(This article is a translation only. The original article is in Chinese.)

If you are interested in other articles of Professor Patrick Lau, please visit http://bublog.hkbu.edu.hk/bublog/html/blog.jsp?bid=7.