When I was a kid I was constantly criticized for daydreaming by my teachers and parents.
Once, in kindergarten, I ‘came-to’ and found the entire playground empty – except for me, still singing and swinging, oblivious to the loud end-of-recess bell.
My imagination has always been my greatest asset…and my bête noire. In his post Classroom Creativity, Jonah Lehrer writes about the complexities of creative kids:
“Everybody wants a creative child – in theory. The reality of creativity, however, is a little more complicated, as creative thoughts tend to emerge when we’re distracted, daydreaming, disinhibited and not following the rules. In other words, the most imaginative kids are often the trouble-makers.”
He refers to a study (Creativity: Asset or Burden in the Classroom? by Erik L. Westby; V. L. Dawson, Creativity Research Journal) on “how elementary school teachers perceived creativity in their students.”
While the teachers said they wanted creative kids in their classroom, they actually didn’t.
In fact, when they were asked to rate their students on a variety of personality measures – the list included everything from “individualistic” to “risk-seeking” to “accepting of authority” – the traits mostly closely aligned with creative thinking were also closely associated with their “least favorite” students.
As the researchers note, “Judgments for the favorite student were negatively correlated with creativity; judgments for the least favorite student were positively correlated with creativity.”
Those of us who’ve internalized those negative judgements about our unconventional, creative personalities, can revalue ourselves in the light of this research.
Photo: Crazy Students! by Skathill