Creativity - Don't Shut It Off

What is your emphasis on life. Is it money, status, looks, fitness? All of these things are admirable if it is done honestly and in balance, but the greatest is creativity.

In the mid 1980s I prayed a simple prayer - God how should we school our daughter - and our lives have never been the same. My thought behind the prayer was should we send our child to the Romeo school district or the Oxford school district. Most of our child's friends in my day care went to the Oxford schools and our child was assigned to the Romeo schools. I believe that God gave me those words to pray because HE had a plan that went way beyond my prayers.

Shortly after that time, I began to run across people who home schooled their children. All the stupid assumptions that academia had convinced me were true about home schooled children began to fall away as I observed family after family who had taken on this way of life. It was not hard to find this society inside of a society as they were well organized even though very diverse. They came from every ethnic and religious background imaginable. This is what was common, though, among the majority of the families that had chosen this path of eduction. The children were the most peaceful, happy, and well rounded socially I had ever met.  They could relate to children in their age group but also were able to relate to children that were younger or older than they were. They also knew how to observe and communicate with adults almost flawlessly no matter what age. This was something that I did not see in children who attended schools where their only exposure most of the day was to only one age group and a small amount of adults. Another surprising find in this observation is that even children with learning disabilities were loving learning and grasping concepts in ways I never thought would be possible.

I observed that children who attended a regular school room settings seemed to think that the world only included their limited world of age and preference. This seemed to be okay until I later observed this thinking in the teen years which I have seen lead to unbalanced behavior in many areas like drinking, drugs, sex, etc. It seemed to me that all the children were doing was following the example of those around them as we all do because they only had one "peer" group or influence.

By the time many children reached high school, it seemed competition was so pronounced. The children who thrived on "take in a concept and spit it out for a grade" did well. The rest were so frustrated that they couldn't wait to get out of it. This many times translated into "I hate school and learning" to "I will get a good grade at any cost." I believe that is why we see many adults who loathe learning or will step on anyone in society to get to where they want to go. I am giving the extreme examples here but by the time high school is reached in the United States public schools all creativity has been stomped out of a child and they become prized for their grade production. If they can't make the grade, they feel like failures. If they exhibit thinking outside of the box which many times includes creativity, they are shunned from academia.

I am a person who enjoys social situations, so I found myself searching out families that were home schooling just to ask questions of them, observe, and learn what they did. I found children who would normally hate learning (couldn't sit still, some had obvious learning disabilities, they were more interested in other things than sitting at a desk and learning, etc.) but they were excelling in every area. How could this be. Could it be if you love learning, it becomes something you just do like walking and talking?

I found kids who would leave no stone unturned to learn a subject as deeply as they could for their age. I found parents who, as they observed this wonderful learning, found themselves learning at a higher rate. It was absolutely exciting to observe. The creativity of the children flowed like a gushing river. You could give the children a concept and be amazed at what they would find out through the library, field trips, computer, TV, interviews with adults that had experienced what they were learning, etc.

These children were not limited by a few teacher. Parents would take them to college professors, business owners, people who worked in specific areas, etc. so that the child could ask and observe from someone who lived what they were interested in. It was amazing, by the way, how many people were open to sharing their personal experiences with a home school child or group.

Another part of this whole thing was how economically easy it was to home school even for the poorest of families. Many home school groups include certified teachers and even people who are specialized in learning disabilities. If someone could not help you in a home school group, they knew someone who could. Most of the home school groups were very serious about learning. They only shunned those who wanted to home school to take their children out of society and then did not intend on teach the children anything. These people are quickly told that that is an unacceptable part of this movement. I found higher standards academically among home school people than in the public school systems and no child was left out of the group unless they were violent. Even then parents rallied around a family that was truly working hard to do the best they could.

Now what does all of this have to do with creativity. I found that the home school environment opened up a whole world of "you can do it" and "shoot for the stars" that I had not seen in large academic settings. To this day I joy in the creativity of the children we knew and are grown. The economy has had some effect on how any of the children are doing during this decade but overall, home school children don't look at the obstacles but the great possibilities no matter what the circumstances of life. I have learned that when a human being is treated as an individual and their creativity is guarded with all diligence, the world becomes bigger than anyone can imagine or the possibilities.

Am I against public schooling. Absolutely not. In any choice that we make for our children, though, we should look at both sides of the coin and choose what fits us and our children. I talk a lot about home schooling because there is so much misunderstanding out there. Most people come to conclusions about a subject by what others say and do not read or observe on their own. If they do observe, they choose maybe one example and hone in on that. Look at the broader spectrum of experience. Realize that there is no perfect solution but be open to new ideas and maybe creativity will flow greater in your life too.

1 comment:

  1. Glad that God answered your prayer in his own way, and not according to your wishes.