September 17, 2010

What Stifles Creativity?

I was reading an article about unschooling one's children. Have you ever heard of this?

The basic premise is to not give your children boundaries, schedules, routines, etc. And certainly do not teach them anything curriculum. Everything they learn must be of their own choosing, and any direct teaching is forbidden. The idea is not to stifle the child's own curiosity and direction...

But, I ask...What is creativity that is not harnessed and directed? How can anyone learn without being taught?

Seriously, learning by accident, in my 30 years of learning, is pure myth to me.

Unless a teacher outright told me what they expected of me, I missed the mark.

I am one who believes in teaching boundaries, skills and expectations and then letting the student find his/her creativity within this structure.

I used to think creativity could not be found in structure. I deplored any teacher who gave me set rules on anything.

And then as I got into my later years of English, I started to lose my way as a writer. I was floundering, trying to be all creative, and my work lacked focus and flow.

I remember one friend who was determined that if some famous author can say 'F*CK the RULES', then why couldn't we?. Well, being older and wiser, I realize that these famous authors almost always stayed within the confines of grammatical and structural writing rules...

Their creativity was directed.

I remember my first practicum in teacher's college when I saw a teacher telling students exactly how to do a project. Right down to how she wanted the title to look. I was appalled. My creative free spirit was all, how dare you tell them what they have to do? What happened to their own creative thoughts?

But now I am the teacher who does that. I figure my students are still young and need this structure and guidance.
In three years when they are off in high school and university, my structure will be nothing but dormant knowledge, but it will still be in there, and students may become a bit more creative, but their creativity will have guidance and order.

Sigh. I am a Restoration girl, I suppose. I thrive on order and believe only within its confines can anyone communicate creativity in a manner that is understood.

Even dance has strict rules and poise and discipline. Its beauty is in its perfect lines and movements.

Happy Friday all!


  1. Anonymous17.9.10

    While I can definitely see the benefits of a less rigidly structured (key is: LESS RIGIDLY, not unstructured) learning curriculum going to the extreme of letting kids decide what they want to learn seems laughably insane. How can anyone decide what to learn when they’re at an age when they can’t even begin to comprehend what is AVAILABLE to be learned?

    I was a very precocious and bookish little girl, but even so if my parents had let me decide what I was going to learn on my own my entire knowledge base today would be limited to horses, Robin Hood and candy.

    I like your point about dance. Like a dance, life needs to be a mixture of structure and flexibility/spontaneity. One without the other just won’t work. (Great post!)

  2. I love routine and structure and start to feel all anxious without it. That being said, I would also describe myself as very creative (knitting, sewing, writing, etc)


Thanks for your thoughts!


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