Too often these days teachers hear the words, “I’m bored”.
In a world full of instant gratification, fast food and next day delivery children have lost the innate skill of being creative, as everything now is done for them.
Creativity is defined as; “the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness” and it is sad to see that in a time where we so desperately need inventors and out-of-the-box thinkers, our schooling system is quashing creativity in favour of grades and standardized testing.
With the election next week, we have been hearing impassioned speeches by politicians bringing up educational policy in their campaigns about how we should be doing more for children, creating a better future for them. But governments have become so obsessed with numbers, and tracking, and ‘leaving no one behind,’ that they have forgotten that they are dictating policy to children and while well intended the consequences of having such rigidity means there is little space for creative pursuits. This has lead to children forgetting how to amuse themselves. Their days so jammed packed with structured activities that they rarely get the chance to be themselves, play a game, dance or be creative.
Childhood should be a magical time of exploring, creating, and imagining the world through play and it is important to note that this type of learning cannot be taught in a structured lesson. Rather we should encourage investigative behavior and provide opportunities for deeper learning.
One educational theorist, Rudolf Steiner introduced an educational pedagogy in 1919 that emphasized the role of imagination in learning, striving to integrate holistically the intellectual, practical, and artistic development of pupils, popularly known as the Waldorf method. Studies have shown that Waldorf graduates have the ability to integrate thinking; to assimilate information as opposed to memorizing isolated facts; to be flexible, creative and willing to take intellectual risks; and are leaders with high ethical and moral standards who take initiative and are passionate to reach their goals.
So how do we get our children to be more creative you ask? The simple answer is to make time!
In the car on the way to school practice telling tall stories. Keep adding to the fantastical narrative until your sides split open from laughter- there is no right or wrong in playing this game, just tell a story and build on it encourage your child to describe the characters and settings. Have them draw a picture on the weekend to go with it.
On the weekends try and get outside as much as possible. You don’t need to plan an outing, just go to the park and ask your children to invent a game. Play along, no matter how silly and enjoy the moment of being together. The more they are allowed to be free, the further their confidence will grow.
Dance and listen to music. There are many studies that show a link between listening to certain music and increased brain function. Get your children from a young age to create sounds with pots and pans, stones in a tin can, or rice in a cardboard tube make great shakers!
Most importantly is to allow time for being creative, and try not to be too directive. Simply say that for the next hour the kids can play outside, or paint in the lounge, or create a dance routine in their bedrooms, cook in the kitchen, and that if you’re needed you are there.
Don’t let them slump in front of the TV, or play computer games for hours on end. Find a balance, and maybe soon teachers will stop hearing the words, ‘I’m bored,’ as children will relish the free time they have to imagine their far away worlds and the next chapter of the tall story they want to tell you about on the ride back home.