• Helen Hattingh

We’re being educated out of our creativity

A child that is learning to walk does not give up halfway through the job. At no time is there a thought that this task is too much for them. As he or she makes strides towards becoming a walker, there are plenty of bumps and falls along the way. Do they give up trying? Never.

So why is it that as adolescents and adults we give up so easily?

Why is it that highly creative children, with an abundance of confidence and talent, are continuously warned against following their passions? Why is it ingrained in us from a very early age that one needs to conform and follow an academic path so that we can be gainfully employed as adults? It seems that somewhere along the line, academic ability became our measure of intelligence.

Yet every year, more and more kids obtain a degree and go home to continue playing video games.

Our kids are paying the price of our constant demand for academic ability whereas what we need for our kids to thrive in an adult world, is to develop the richness of human capacity, by growing diversity; individuality and creativity.

Creativity is defined as the process of having original ideas that have value.

Yet as soon as these emerge in an average school environment, they are crushed as intolerable and often labeled, causing the child to have low self-esteem, a lack of sense of belonging and classified as not fitting in. They're being told that their values don't matter and what's more important, is fitting in. How do we encourage kids to become entrepreneurs and create their own path in life if every aspect of individuality is regarded as abnormal? What are we teaching our kids if we encourage them to hide their unique talents in favor of pursuing an academic curriculum?

Our schools need to change, but so does our parenting style need to change. Our values, acquired over time, often associate an academic degree with social status. If we have a degree, we are assured of gainful employment. Not so anymore, I’m afraid. So why put your kids through the agony of losing their creativity just to follow the traditional path to tertiary education and end up as a maladjusted adult with no passion anymore?

So many adolescents have a drive for accolades and an almost robotic routine of academic achievement. But does this incite passion? No – not at all. It eventually crumbles and leaves those young adults with depression, anxiety, and very low self-esteem.

How do we counter this? By letting them discover themselves and their passion in their own time and their own way. They need to define their own set of values.

They need to learn, like when they learned to walk, to get up and try again if they fail. They need to learn resilience. When they have a clear set of values that they have come to trust through testing these for themselves, they will develop the inner strength that will allow them to stand apart from the crowd and be comfortable with their individuality.

These are the characteristics that are required to get them through the trials and tribulations of adult life. It's not something you as a parent can’t teach them – its something they need to try on and fit for themselves. They need to explore and identify the values that will serve them in their own lives. It’s their life, not yours after all, and whilst you as a parent can be a very positive role model for your children, they need to experiment, fail, get up and try again all by themselves.

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