The Super Old Creative Genius Study and How it Applies to your Kids in 2023
George Land spent a lot of time studying creativity and determined that UNcreative thinking and behavior are learned, rather than innate. He also determined that while creative thinking is a natural trait in everyone, it can be exponentially developed through influences and experiences. Children show really high levels of creativity, while adults’ creative abilities have significantly declined, showing that if not properly nurtured, creative thinking and problem solving abilities will diminish drastically over time. Land also challenged societal norms, by proving that the educational systems that prioritize conformity are the cause, specifically because they discourage risk-taking and exploration.
How can we foster an environment that promotes creative thinking? I have created a list!
Inquiry Based learning - This is where we allow them to question, research, and investigate on their own. This is Student-led.
Interest Based Learning - This is where kids really shine, and it will show how effectively they learn things when selecting topics that they are truly interested in. Also Student led.
Teach Decision Making - talk through your decisions and let them help you come up with problem solving ideas (think: scheduling after school activities and how to rearrange schedules to fit everything in)
Celebrate Mistakes - encourage your kiddos to take risks and do new things. When they do make a mistake, tell them they are one step closer to mastering the skill, and help them figure out what went wrong.
Read together - read a lot of books, but most notably, read diverse books with characters and storylines that are unlike their own personal experiences. This helps expand their world perspective and is a good opportunity for critical thinking.
Provide a creative space - have a space in your home with tools, crafty stuff, materials, etc and don’t micromanage what they do with it. Give them the open opportunity to do whatever they want. This is great for learning problem solving and for developing confidence in themselves.
Growth Mindset - teach your kids that intelligence and problem solving can be developed, it’s not a set point in their personality.
Ask open ended questions rather than yes/no. Think “What would happen if…….?”
Support Exploration: let them be kids and explore all the messy, inconvenient parts of their environment and take them places where they will be inspired and where they can discover new things.
Let them play open-ended - let them decide what they’re going to play with and how they’re going to do it. A tea set isn’t just for tea parties. Don’t force them into conformity.
Don’t solve their problems for them - give them a chance to figure it out on their own! There’s a good chance they’ll come up with something you’ve never thought of!
George Land was a scientist and researcher known for his work in fostering creativity, psychology and innovation. He acquired a list of accolades, but most notable was his work with the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT). He worked with psychologist E. Paul Torrance to use the assessment that measured creative thinking.
Here is a Ted Talk with George Land discussing his research. He talks about his creativity study starting at 6:08.