Josh Walter

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Should creativity be encouraged or discouraged?

In many households and schools, children who "act up" are the ones who receive the harshest, most frequent punishment. Many of these children demonstrate innate abilities in one or more areas, such as music or math or painting. Unfortunately, very infrequently do parents or teachers take the time to delve into the psyches of their more rambunctious children to discover their talents. The education system is designed to produce functioning members of society and, primarily due to the benign influence a conformist society has on a child, there are undoubtedly fewer individualists than there are conformists. I implore you to debate the issue of whether or not it is right for parents, teachers, and other authority figures to discourage individuality, creativity, and curiosity instead of work towards discovering and nurturing hidden talents.

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    Jun 24 2011: Is this a trick question? =)

    Of course it should be encouraged...
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      Jun 24 2011: How dare you!
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        Jun 24 2011: It's not a trick question, and it should definitely be encouraged, but why isn't it? Contrary to claims made by people working within the school system, individuality, creativity, and curiosity are rarely encouraged in schools because children possessing these traits are "harder to handle" and make a teacher's job more challenging. I wrote this conversation to get you to think a little bit deeper about an otherwise simple topic of conversation, to have you respond with intelligent, well thought-out answers, and to bring you to ask, "why?" of things we have been taught to assume are correct!
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    Jun 23 2011: They need to be managed - regardless of the reason for their being different, disruptions in the classroom detracts from all of the other students in the classroom.
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      Jun 23 2011: I 100 percent agree with Scott.

      It is not a black and white issue; punished or nurtured.
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        Jun 23 2011: I hear you and agree in spirit with your statement. However, there are Individualized Education Plans that are meant to foster their development, help with problem behaviors, etc.. that in spirit are meant to do more than manage them. What if it were your child that a school saw as a a problem and the teacher on up spoke to you in language of "managing" your child so as not to have him/her bother the other students?

        I have worked with some very bright children who have at least 3 adults assigned to manage them, paras, which = 24 hours/day of pay to establish better baby gates around them. They resent this and end up with more hours spent managing this. They are unhappy, convinced they are nothing but a defective child and it is very hard to gain their trust and undo this damage. However, children given some care and attention do respond quite differently and can thrive.

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          Jun 24 2011: I hear what you're saying but I don't think there's any other way for an institution to deal with these individuals until a whole lot more money and people get involved.

          Since history shows that this is unlikely to ever happen, parents have to take it into their own hands, unfortunately.

          Part of the problem is that a lot of parents seem to expect schools to deal with all and every issue that arises - including behavioural problems, learning difficulties, health issues, useless parents who should never have had kids, and so on.

          In reality, a modern teacher's job is to deliver a state-sanctioned curriculum. This is not ideal, but logistically, there are few other options.

          You don't need 'qualified' people to provide care and attention - in fact, I believe this is the responsibility of family and friends.
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    Jun 23 2011: No matter what it is , punishing kids will not give anything rather killing their natural capability and growth.

    What's the definition of hyperactivity?
    Who measures whether a kid is hyperactive or not?
    How capable that person is to measure that ?
    What's the scale?
    What's the validity of that scale ?

    So many unsure answers are around about all the above, we can't go for definitive action.

    Have to understand them and make them understand about desired behavior, that could be the solution other than definitive diagnosis which might need doctors or psychologist intervention.

    Irrespective of creative ability punsihment shouldn't be applied for kids.
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      Jun 24 2011: I have slightly changed the premise to leave the topic open to more interpretations, and your answer is still extremely valid. In my opinion, hyperactivity is a diagnosis given by people holding positions of authority to children who can not be controlled by people of average dedication and intelligence. As one of these "hyperactive" children, I have been deemed defective by many of my elementary and middle school teachers, but the entire time I've had a penchant for music, writing, philosophy, and math. I had to figure myself out without very much assistance, which was by no definition a simple task! That being said, I believe that if parents and/or teachers took a moment to solve these immensely creative enigmas that are "hyperactive children," the children would find success far more achievable!
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        Jun 24 2011: A big part of a teacher's role is managing a large class of students. This is completely logical when it comes to managing any sizeable groups of people.

        Unfortunately, if you are not 'easily managed' then you very quickly get labelled a 'trouble-maker'.

        This is bullshit, of course, but requires much more money being funneled into education (ultimately, to reduce class numbers to a one-to-one ratio - imagine how much more effective a teacher could be if they could be a mentor to only one student per year!).

        Until governments recognise the worth of kids as our future leaders and respond in a way that reflects this, a lot of intelligent people will be labelled otherwise by overworked (and vision-less) teachers.
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        Jun 24 2011: @Josh my worry is with HYPERACTIVITY as observed people who are not qualified to diagnose too quickly jump on that conclusion. These people are teachers, parents , neighbors etc . This era when kids are exposed to so many stimuli since birth like TV, mobile, Internet etc , my hypothesis is they are normally to be more reactive to the environment compared to their parent's or grandparent's generation.Keeping that in mind need to really look in to the definition of ADHD which has HYPERACTIVITY as prime symptoms.

        when we adults acting irrationally many times and examples of which coming to the kids through TV, Internet etc, expecting KID to behave like ADULT is really strange to me.

        Really sorry for experience you had.
      • Jun 24 2011: Josh, I am glad you were able to overcome the difficult situations in which you were placed. You are spot on with your assessment of the "diagnosis" by the people who are supposed to be facilitating the development of these children. Regrettably, there are many, many other children like you who suffer, and end up in bad situations. It is heartbreaking.

        Simple band-aid solutions that are so often put forward are useless. A major paradigm overturn is needed, with different thinking and a different way of training educators (this includes parents). The archaic ways of teaching children must go. There have been sufficient advances in neuroscience and enough talk about variances in children's behaviour for us to move beyond suffocating children who are not passive. I am sorry you had to endure all that pain but happy you were able to realize your brilliance. Bravo.
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          Jun 24 2011: Thank you, that means a lot to me. And I agree with you - it's terrible to witness a child with a type D mind think that they're useless because the world is strictly A, B, and C. People with positions of power (i.e. parents, teachers, family, friends, etc.) need to start acknowledging this child's uniqueness and creative potential and encouraging him or her to continue to nurture this uniqueness and creativity.
  • Jun 23 2011: I believe Ken Robinson pointed out that our educational systems are based around the same ideals as fast food.

    In a highly structure and standardized environment, creativity when not purposefully called for is punished and it is a shame. The ability for people to learn through various and flexible ways is a great strength that I think has been demonized in past years and thus squandered.

    Unfortunately, it is difficult to change rigid systems and people are often loathed to contemplate a complete overhaul.
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      Jun 23 2011: I agree with you Bob. It is sad. The intelligence, creativity that could be fostered and encouraged isn't (much) any more. Teacher's have to (rigidly) prepare students for standardized achievment tests nowadays. Which is quite linear and leaves little room for the teachers who I am sure totally agree with you.
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    Jun 23 2011: I do think people need to learn disciplines and be aware of how their behaviors impact others. However, punishment i personally think is not always a long-term solution.So how to nurture that talents while holding them accountable is not an easy job for teachers.(or for anybody)
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    Jul 4 2011: I have to say that in many environments most especially corporate environments, creativity is a creature that no one seems to know what to do with- thus it is quashed and killed. Most corporations have lock step procedures that require everyone to do it as it has always been done.
    A couple of years ago I came up with a creative solution for getting more hospital staff and patients to use the alchol gel that kills the germs that are transmitted in hospitals. My boss could have cared less until I submitted it directly to the marketing department (the noncreative people who are hired to be creative) and worked with them to develop the idea. When it went into production, it was estimated to increase sales by more than a million $ per annum. At that point my boss took credit for the idea on a conference call where others spoke up to say that it was actually me who originated and worked on the project. I not only did not get acknowledgment, I did not receive any compensation and on my next evaluation I was punished for working on things outside my perview even though my area was the best performing in the country!
    The world needs creative solutions but the protocols that are in place in most organizations are killing it at every turn.
  • Jul 4 2011: My experience: " being creative" is the normal state of being a child. This is a pure state of being of no ressistance, no judgement. Feeling of ONENESS.
    Through education, life experience, interactions etc. children learn to judge, to ressist, which leads to suffering and struggle. This is the state of being of humans, at this time.

    So being creative like a child is the state of no struggle, no ressistance, no judgement: Yes, I encourage, to feel the pure feeling of a child and be creative. But while growing up, how to keep this state?
    There is another way to live, another state of being, to stay in your pure creative state of being without judgement and ressistance, without struggle.
    This state of being, where the creativity comes from the pure feeling of ONENESS, without duality, bad or good.This feeling of ONENESS, is INSIDE everybody, but humans have so many LAYERS on it, that they don't feel it anymore.
    These layers, accumulated through education, life experiences etc. are supposed to help us through life.
    As far as I know, humans are looking for this feeling of ONENESS outside themselves, where they cannot find it.
    So humans accumulated so many layers, because they thought, they need them, to find the feeling of oneness outside themselves.
    If we can clear the layers, we will find the feeling of ONENESS, INSIDE yourself, where all the pure creativity is and has been always waiting for you. So encourage creativity, encourage listening INSIDE yourself and it will talk to you of ONENESS.
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    Jun 28 2011: Encourage. As a parent of a 6 and 7 year old, I often times have to find the balance between allowing their inventive imaginations to flow, while keeping them grounded in reality. For example, my son told me he wants to shrink down to ant size like in Ant Bully. I remind him that currently, technology is not advanced enough for such activities, however you could be one of those who create such possibilities. That said...the Ant Bully is a cartoon...not real. Additionally, I did not know my learning style until I was 35. Upon learning how I, well, learn, it revealed many of the reasons for my poor interactions with my Math instructors over the years. They were teaching me in ways that suited them...not me (or any one else who's learning style differed from theirs). Thus I was constantly in poor standing with my instructors. I love Ken's story about the girl who had nothing wrong with her..."She's a dancer". Understand first, then teach.
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    Jun 26 2011: Pieces of N e i ..
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    Jun 24 2011: The sad thing is that creativity and thinking outside the box are things that are 'taught' out of students until after High School and then those are the very things that University Profs ask for in Essays and 'scholarship' and employers are supposedly looking for and rewarding in their employees. Seems like the system is bass ackwards in preparing our kids to succeed in the world we are are teaching them to enter.
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      Jun 24 2011: I agree completely! I think a college-like system - choosing your own courses simply because it interests you - should be employed earlier on, like in elementary or middle school. Children are raised with great assumptions about authority and the importance of certain classes over others (English over drawing, for instance) and I would love to see schools start acknowledging the importance of classes like drawing to children. If teachers begin telling children of the importance of individuality, creativity, and curiosity, instead of implying that these are traits of rebellious underachievers, I think the world could be a happier, more successful place.
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    Jun 24 2011: I once had a boy in my class who couldn't read for shit. His mother was fixated on his reading levels and constantly demanded attention to rectify this as if ticking enough boxes would solve his 'problem'.

    The thing is, this boy had the most highly developed social skills I have ever encountered (he was 8 at the time). He could, and did, relate to every other kid I saw him interact with. He was able to entertain the entire class, impromptu and was able to engage adults as easily as his peers.

    I could see that the education system would continually and consistently fail to recognise his strengths and his great hope lay with his parents recognising his strengths and disregarding such a narrow-minded education system. Unfortunately, his mother put a lot more stock in standardised assessment and paper test results than what her son was capable of.

    A crying shame.

    Upshot is, I expect he would have left school and thrived once free of the blinkered ed-system that failed to measure his ability..
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    Jun 24 2011: .
    Creativity should be strictly outlawed.

    We should lock up all people in tiny boxes, feed them green goo, and have them push buttons all day to produce statistics on themselves. Bureaucracy is the only way forward for mankind.

    The creativity gene - if there is one - should be erased from the human genome. In order to prevent a decline in the consumption of green goo.
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    Jun 24 2011: The premise has changed I see.

    Yes creativity & curiosity should be encouraged.
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    Jun 24 2011: We do need a substantial portion of each class to pass through a mold and come out as functioning members of society, because society needs people to stay in some position and work to contribute so that the wheels of society are kept running.

    So my view is this:
    Develop a system which continuously monitors students through their career to see if a particular student exhibits the rare extraordinary talent that he/she can sustain and bring to good use for a significant portion of their life. If not, give progressively stronger advice to the student who is "different" that he/she should also look at a more mainstream vocation, but can cultivate this talent as a amateur activity.
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    Jun 23 2011: I have been looking at this a lot while working on my PhD as a topic for my dissertation. I can tell you recent educational materials for new teachers make a clear statement that these children will be adversely affected by the punishment you speak of. It's very flowery and appreciate each child as they are etc. I found a lot of studies that look at interventions to use with them. I found 1 study that looked at "teacher's perceptions" of students with ADHD based on "their knowledge" about it. I found one article that related that they found these children are not viewed well, and treated as you related and the damage it's causing. Also the National Institute for Mental Health released a report this year relating that the symptoms and presentation of these students causes them a lot of interpersonal distress, etc. What I want to look at, because it has to be doable, clear, etc. is to look more into teacher's perceptions of these students. In doing this I can present/study factors associated with this, relate the need to acknowledge the need to improve these perceptions, etc. One fact I will place in my study is the Stigma about these kids essentially being bad, using excuses, having had poor parenting, etc. are still quite prevelant in our society (from back when diagnoses went way up..). You can read about this stigma and the emotional effects to kids and their families.... But not in any research I found. However, many support web sites, groups, etc. talk about stigma in detail and give advice to help kids and parents to manage it. I'd like to see a reduction of it being a primary goal.. I have worked with teens who hate themselves and feel incapable/stupid, who as you pointed out are creative, usually very intelligent &.. Sensitive. They feel all these slights and eventually believe the chorus. We would not have a 10 of our inventions etc. without people like them (us).