Creativity is something we all seem to admire, be attracted to and sort of envy. How many times have you heard, “I wish I could do that… I’m just not creative… I guess you’re born that way.”
Well if creativity is something to be admired, why does it get short changed on the academic level? And just what is it anyway? The dictionary defines it as “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” And the thesaurus says the following: “imagination, innovation, innovativeness, originality, individuality; artistry, inspiration, vision; enterprise, initiative, resourcefulness.”
I don’t know if that definition or any of those words helps us all that much. If anything they continue to shroud the word in some vague notion that can only apply to some kind of genius or people that just don’t fit into the mainstream.
To me, creativity is having the ability to slow down, listen, take it all in, and see the obvious that is right in front of your nose, but it’s so close it’s tough to see. Unfortunately I don’t see it much in adults - maybe it’s because their adult nose gets in the way of their line of sight. But I do see it a lot in children - their noses haven’t gotten too big yet! During my time with the Milford Eduction Foundation I have been awed by the talent of young people in our schools that partake in our various programs, workshops and mini grants. Kids that actually come up with some workable inventions that are totally marketable and serve a unique societal need.
But as time goes by, creativity tends to get put in a box, that it is only for artists, or musicians. Those artists and musicians don’t know how lucky they are - they can keep that secret to themselves. I think it gets lost in the sense that it isn’t “practical” - or “you can’t make money at it” — or it gets bowled over by the enthusiasm and support for sports and other activities.
But if you look around you, creativity has enabled everything your eyes take in. Someone designed that car you’re driving, that meal you are eating, that furniture you bought, that lamp you want in your house — even the ice cubes in your fancy drink! Creativity even enabled the intangibles such as innovative investment or insurance programs. In essence, creativity fuels the economy and our life overall - and while we are at it - tends to make us more insightful human beings that are tuned into the needs of others. And in this world we certainly need more of that.
So as we continue our work through the Milford Education Foundation, we are going to look for ways to be creative about encouraging creativity among our school children. I have seen first hand how it pays dividends for myself and for my own family. It’s not a mystery, or something to be feared. We just have to get a bit more… well… creative!