One Step Solution to
Creativity…….and Boredom

“The Spontaneous
overflow of powerful emotions recollected in tranquillity” is what
William Wordsworth said about poetry.

Creativity does not get
any better than composing a poem. It involves deep processing of a
thought, experience and emotion and its expression in such a way that
it not only strikes a cord in the reader but does it in a musical
melodious way..

Most creativity actually
fulfils all these criteria of beauty and usefulness.

And as it happens with
most important things in life, creativity is a much abused word. You
hear it spread across billboards, advertisements, boardrooms, school
classrooms even coaching classes !

I have attended some
talks and workshops on creativity, read a lot of stuff about it and
talked to many creative people in various walks of life like science,
sports, music, arts and cinema, business, homemaking, medicine even
accountants ! There is a lot written about this process of creativity
by some poets and authors. To name a few in my mother tongue,
Marathi, – Pu La Deshpande, Padgaonkar, Shantabai Shelke and of
course “poet” Borkar ( Bakibab). Even companies like Google do a
lot of creativity facilitation in their workplaces and have developed
strategies for it.

What I present now is a
synthesis of all this with special attention to our children-

Creative process has a
few pre-conditions. It requires gathering of information,
experimental data, processing time, uncritical environment where
these experiments can be discussed – a good sounding board and
freedom to do all this- autonomy !

Processing this further,
I have realized that it requires-

  1. A long process of
    just looking around, exploring, thinking, gradually getting curious
    about something and exploring it further.

  2. During these
    explorations the child must have the freedom to experiment, break
    things, use them in a non-conventional way. – Autonomy

  3. Show this off to
    interested people and soak in their admiration and encouragement.

  4. Continue this
    process over and over again….infinite number of times….develop
    this into a lifelong habit.

You must have realised
quickly that this a long process and it is not outcome oriented but
process oriented. So it will take lot of time and space. Immediate
outcomes will be focussed attention, curiosity, exclusion of
distractions, enthusiasm, happiness and creative frustration. Long
term outcomes are – an active mind that looks at the world in a
curious way and finds normal life experiences exciting. This mind can
look for unusual solution to common problems and simple solutions to
complicated issues, a process of innovation. This mind will have a
very high frustration tolerance and low need for superficial

This will require time
and one most important thing –

when we think, mull over
things and let our mental processes work, we need peace – from our
eyes and ears – visual and auditory stimulation, if it happens
early on in the creative process, will destroy the process. Familiar
music does not have destructive influence but rapid changing visuals
are very destructive. All creative people have repeated this many
times – they need time away from passive visual stimulation like
TV, video games, internet,etc. This kind of visual stimulation takes
up huge amount of procession space in brain and suspends everything
else. Imagine a child watching TV and you have an example of what I
am trying to express.

This does not mean that
children should sit with closed eyes, it means that kids should have
quiet time away from rapidly changing visuals. Looking out of the
window, just staring at something absent-mindedly of listening to
familiar music while going about experimenting with things provides
just the right kind soothing trance that a creative process needs. It
is bit like meditation, you give your mind a nonsensical, low
stimulation toy to play with repeatedly so that large part of your
brain can be protected from distractions and go to work on creative

Now back to the problem
of real life and our kids-

some steps that I can
think of-

  1. From earliest days
    of life, leave kids alone to play. They are not our toys and source
    of entertainment. Let them get used to spending time by themselves,
    preferably alone in the room or if that is not feasible then with
    non-intruding adult in the same room. Babies as young as 10 days can
    spend up to 30 Min playing by themselves, if allowed by adults.

  2. Do not instruct
    children on “proper” way of playing. If you stop instructing,
    they will use the same play material in may different ways to
    generate many plays.

  3. Let them tell you
    stories and tales without interruption, instructions and do not get
    too curious about themes in their mind. Even violent and destructive
    fantasies are healthy and necessary.

  4. Take them on walks
    whenever you can. Just let them run around, explore and ask
    questions without bombarding them with “knowledge”.

  5. When they come up
    with solutions to their problems, let them try out, even if you
    totally disagree with the solution. This will help them develop a
    self evaluation process – most important skill in life.

As you can see, this will
not increase your child’s marks in exam but it will make them
independent thinkers, courageous solution finders and will help them
live a life that is not filled with need of constant stimulation,
novelty. Their idea of having a good time will extend beyond visiting
malls and playing computer games.

( This piece of writing
was inspired by a you tube video ( )suggested by my creative
businessman friend Ameya Navathe. I also found some inspiration from
a book “A Good Enough Parent” by Bruno Bettelheim.)

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