Ashley Merryman came to our school this week to speak to students, faculty and parents about her work with Po Bronson. I haven’t read their book, NurtureShock, yet but I likely will. Here’s an interesting article by both of them in Newsweek:
Here’s a quote from the article that’s serving as my writing prompt today:
“Creativity has always been prized in American society, but it’s never really been understood.”
I agree with this statement. I think popular American society tends to see creativity as an innate but mysterious quality that some people have, and others do not – it can be enriched or fostered, but not necessarily taught or, on the other end of the spectrum, subdued. This is the first article I’ve read that suggests that under some conditions, creativity can actually be limited or diminished in a person. Creativity is often used synonymously to mean “artistic talent,” but this article focuses on creativity as problem-solving and innovation, no matter what the discipline is.
I’ve read a lot about creativity, and most authors see it as a birthright – that we all have creativity but need to tap into it and develop it. I’ve also read that children are naturally creative and that this can lessen over time if it is not fostered. In a way, saying something is “innate and mysterious” lets one off the hook for developing it. If we don’t understand something it’s easy to say “she has it, he doesn’t” and leave it at that. It can become the focus of prejudice as well: “He has a creative personality, that’s why he acts that way …” But if creativity can be understood, then we need to pay more attention to how, when and where it is being fostered. And we have to take some of those stereotypes off as well.