Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Article Review: "Flexing The Creativity Muscle"

Why is it important to foster curiosity?
 This article from explains
I'm a sucker for the free magazines and newspapers left out at the local pizza joint.  I enjoy reading while I eat so picking up an issue of the Hometown Shopper or the Long Island Parent Magazine helps me to pass my time.  Sometimes, however, I actually learn something reading these.  I read an article by Diane Rosen called "Flexing The Creativity Muscle".  It discusses the fact that learning and creativity are not just areas isolated to the arts or to school.  Learning is inherent in all of us and is an activity we all engage in even before we get to school. Teaching Children About Curiosity

My favorite bit of advice comes right at the beginning, when Rosen says that we should not hope that our children outgrow the "why" phase, but actually work to perpetuate it.  I'm not a parent, but if I'm ever lucky enough to have children, I'd want a son or daughter questioning as much as possible.  We live in an age where questioning is seen as peculiar, if not downright dangerous.  Acceptance without questioning makes for a great conspicuous consumer or corporate drone, but not for a thinking, feeling human being.

A lot of this article gives good advice not just to parents, but to teachers as well.  This makes sense, since a significant part of a parent's job is to teach.  If you want a curious child, for instance, model the behavior of being curious.  Allow a child to be wrong without feeling punished.  One of my favorites, however, is don't just ask about grades or test scores, but ask if your child asked something interesting and if he learned anything from asking.  The end goals are important, but so is the process by which we arrive at them.

What ultimately struck a nerve with me from reading this article was how little we pay attention to fostering curiosity in our children in the education system.  You cannot measure curiosity and the benefits of an active mind may not be seen for years.  So it's sad to think that we're pushing children towards high stakes testing that emphasizes product over process, penalizes failure instead of making it an educational opportunity, and rewards mediocrity instead of excellence.  

I don't know about you, but I'm leaning towards home schooling my children when I eventually have children.  While I believe that all citizens living in a democracy have a right to a public education, until the system starts serving our children better, by fostering creativity and curiosity in our children, all we're really doing is indoctrinating them into conformity.   Our kids deserve better.