Break The Rules And Have Fun!

I often talk to parents in my Hertfordshire therapy space and professionals in Hertfordshire schools about creativity and rules. I personally think that there is a fine and interesting balance to be had between creativity and following the rules. But why am I thinking about this today? Well, quite recently I found a piece of work from when I was doing my nursery nurse training way back in 1995. This was the first-ever project that I did whilst I was on my diploma course so I would have been about 16 years old back then. I was writing because I was at college and I didn’t really have a lot of choice in the matter: that was what I needed to do to be able to get through the course that I was doing in to prove that I understood what was going on.

These days I write for pleasure and I enjoy sharing my thoughts and I enjoy finding the right ways to be creative and also good-humoured in the work that I produce for people that have to read it. Back then I didn’t see what I was doing as enjoyable necessarily, I didn’t hate doing it but it was a chore. I have written this as a 16-year-old on my very first project which was about creativity and I would like to share it with you.

(I’m reading it now going ‘wow you’re a genius!’ As a 16-year-old where did these ideas come from? I don’t know if I’m just reading it in a different way now but I will explain to you the meaning that I now take from what I have written)

This was the closing paragraph of the introduction to my project about creativity way back in 1995.

‘You do not need to be intelligent to play creatively because there are no rules to creative play. Problems that an intelligent person may answer as right or wrong may be solved by a more creative person in a different, personal way – considering new thinking routes where all results are acceptable. Creativity cannot be taught – it is a state of mind’.

Now as an adult I am interpreting what I said there, and I don’t know if I meant it in that way back then, but what I’m reading in what I said there is that children have the freedom to explore and not always put frameworks and rules around what they do, particularly when it comes to being creative. I suppose that I’m conscious of the way that children are typically educated these days; there are many, many frameworks put in place, there are many specific goals and measures that need to be achieved, there are many different criteria that they have to meet. There are many different set ways that they have to show that their development is progressing in the way that it should be and I sometimes think that we are a little too regimented about the result that we’re aiming for.

When we are a bit too regimented about how we do what we do it can prevent us from developing our own independent thoughts – and that’s what creativity is about!

For example, I know with maths there are some limitations around creativity. Maths isn’t something that you automatically think of when you think about being creative, but actually there’s very often more than one way to solve a mathematical problem. And maths is constantly changing – the way that we get taught to solve problems now is very different from the way that I was taught how to solve them. So even something like maths lends itself to the opportunity for you to be creative!

When we have all of these parameters in place that say ‘no you need to show your problem-solving as being done like this’ perhaps what that does is shuts down a child or young person’s free-thinking and creative problem-solving skills. I think that having the ability to find your own way and to develop ways of solving problems is a better skill to have then knowing what instructions to follow.

Think about it in its simplest possible form: if you are an adult who has grown up thinking that there are always set ways to do things and if, for some reason, that particular modality is no longer available to you: what do you do? If you always drive to work on the M1 and one day it’s closed what do you do? You’re suddenly in this position of panic and anxiety because you’ve got to figure out another way and you’d never explored other ways before. Creativity gives us the opportunity to look at things from different angles and to do things in different ways. Maybe we will get to where we’re supposed to get to but maybe we will end up somewhere else that is far more beautiful and appealing than the M1.

So be conscious of the rules and the frameworks that you are giving and give room for creativity to happen. Don’t start with an outcome in mind with everything that you do, sometimes you just want to be creative for creativity’s sake. Sometimes it’s a good idea to let your young person dabble, to fiddle around and tinker with stuff and see where the ideas take them.

By Gemma Bailey

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