Children perceive the world in a different light. Their ways of conceiving and articulating reality are disruptive of current meanings and contexts. Their ideas are spontaneous and engaging and highly sophisticated in a mythical sense. In fact, their peculiar genius inspired Einstein’s innovative and scientific work in Physics (the thought of “riding on a light beam” inspired him, thus, expanded his earlier theory of light and realized that the realm of the imaginative is far more deeper and superior than commonsense) and, of course, Pablo Picasso’s cubism and stunning transmutations adopted childlike methods of revealing truths from within and without. Equally impressive stories are intellectual giants Rabindranath Tagore (who wrote 2,500 songs and the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature) and Macrohistorian PR Sarkar (composed 5,000 songs, more or less, and known today as the Renaissance man of India) are known to have mapped out their visions of human civilization (futures) at an early age. Stirred by the creativity of the child, Sigmund Freud theorized that “every child at play behaves like the creative writer who creates a world of his own and rearranges things in a new way that pleases him.”
Noting Freud’s conjectures, I and my humanities students went to San Nicolas Central Elementary School (one of the municipalities of Ilocos Norte, located at the northernmost part of the Philippines) and organized the third installment of the Crayon Dreams creativity experiment. This time we used clays, papers, crayons as art materials and pick out pre-schoool and kindergarten kids (3-7 years old) as participants. Our objective was to observe pre-school artists at work and know their process of imagining and creating art works and other stuff. Also, we took note of their energy-filled forms of fun and expressions as they mold their clays and colored their ideas into reality.
After 2-3 hours of awe inspiring fun and play, we learned that the child processes of creativity are:
- Collaboration. Kids’ likes to “making pakialam”, “make kwento”, “make pahiram” and show their ideas and encourage other kids to mold create and play at the same time. These suggest that collaboration implies multitasking and open-mindedness.Their creative methods endorsed partnership, relationship, association and play as part of the creative process.
- Penetrating mindfulness and curiosity. Awareness is fixed on the target and they are keenly aware of what’s going on. They listen attentively to instructions, we did explained, described our purpose (they have the right to know that), and patiently waited (of course they were jumping and excited) until they got their clays and art materials. Initially, they were creating on their own but after a few minutes, perhaps trying to figure out what to do with their clays, shared and illustrated, by using hand gestures, their ideas. These suggest that children are mindful of their environment and others. While they were curious of our presence, they were not intimidated. The absence of anxiety and the courage to participate are, we think, essential elements of the creative process.
- They play no rules and just want to “Do it!” Sounds like the eternal Nike metaphor “Just do it”? Yes it is! The will to create, to act speaks louder than ideas.For them these things – “free will” and “imagination”- are inseparable. Pablo Picasso knew that when he said “what you imagine is real”. This is an interminable babyhood mantra of creativity! “Imagination is real!” and with “action” (and not “acting”) everything is possible! Action is precisely the ultimate measure of creativity. The kids had this formula in mind I supposed Create + Activity = Creativity.
- Don’t teach me technique. Let me use my intuition. Children are good at inventing and reinventing things. Their innocence and their unique worldview grows with them. They perceive the world in a special way. Some sort of intuiting things to discover their unique self and the unique world around them. Their internal intelligence (quite strong) guided them in the process of creating. Their perception is natural and their intuition is just amazing. Let us not teach them techniques.
All photos by Ms. Lorie Jane Dancel and Ces Carino. Facilitated by Ms. Eva Tacata. A project of the Humanities class under Prof. Shermon Cruz of Northwestern University AY 2011-2012.