I came across a video that reintroduced me as to why I do what I do, what gets me up in the morning, eventually leading me to dust off one of my favorite books about writing (If You Want To Write, by Brenda Ueland). Because of these two works of creativity, I have become reinvigorated. I have come full circle, knowing that, regardless of any success I may hopefully have as a writer, that I am more fortunate than most for just allowing myself to be creative - to think creatively, developing story every day of my life.
I believe that creativity and fostering imagination is extremely important, and shall I say, is mostly nonexistent in American culture from at least the time when I was a youngster (hopefully not today). We must take advantage of the mushy skulls of our young way before they figure out that what mommy and daddy are worrying about and, more importantly, way before kids start worrying about their own future necessities like thinking about responsibilities starting from household chores, eventually leading to grades and future educational decisions (especially before other kids dirty their minds).
From "If You Want To Write"
But this joyful, imaginative, impassioned energy dies out of us very young. Why? Because we do not see that it is great and important. Because we let dry obligation take its place. Because we don't respect it in ourselves and keep it alive by using it. And because we don't keep it alive in others by listening to them.
- And -
When a child is taken somewhere by his parents he is not thinking nervously: are they late or early? is the furnace running at home? etc..., but he is at rest and looks out the window and sees and thinks. He lives in the present. That is why children enjoy looking and listening so much. Why they are such wonderful mimics of grown-ups. They have tremendous concentration because they have no other concern than to be interested in things. Later they are trained to force concentration and become as imaginatively muddy and uneasy as the rest of us.
Even if we fail to encourage and foster creativity at an early age before and during the early stages of our kids schooling, we must take one last stand to make sure "they are trained to force concentration and become as imaginatively muddy and uneasy as the rest of us". Because after this, it much harder to get kids to relax their mind enabling imagination to be as powerful and influential as it should be.
I was thinking back on my educational experience the other day. In my years of schooling, I was never pushed into being more creative. Sure I was introduced to a bunch of opportunities to learn about the arts like drawing in first and third grade, music class in grade school where years of regurgitated piccolo parts in old weathered cardboard boxes were plopped on the floor for the students to dig in to find the one just a little less damaged than the other, but whatever I produced out of those teachings, was just okay. No one told me I could do better or encouraged me to "try another" form of the arts.
I really believe that we must take a divided interest in making sure that children, old and young, are not only encouraged and rewarded for being creative but that they are pushed into finding some outlet for their creativity. This first starts in acknowledging that being creative (drawing, painting, learning to play a musical instrument, and [please] writing) is equally important as any math, science, or humanity class quiz or test. Play time for kids regardless of age, obviously, is great since the kids (and parents) need this time apart, but idle play, even if part of this time is drawing, should not be taken as quality time. In other words, just because your kid spent some time making a drawing, just telling them how nice it looks, taking it and placing it on the fridge congratulating him/her on their creation, should be followed by insisting one drawing isn't enough. Parents should be expected to do this just as a teacher is expected to make sure mis-spelled words or too many wrong math questions should be corrected by the student.
This leads me to the following video from Ted.com where author Ken Robinson goes on to say that, "My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy." And that, In talking about kids being creative, using an example of something he saw, Ken Robinson then goes on to say, "And we're now running national educational systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. And the result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities."