As a student growing up, I remember distinctively the differences between my brother and I. He was smart and I was creative. Although I did well in school and had high test scores, I never for a minute thought I was smart. I knew I was creative because I pursued all the outlets for creative expression-dance, drama, visual art and music. I went to college and graduate school for music and received top grades but yet, I still thought my only opportunity was some outlet for creative expression. Somewhere well into my adulthood, I got it. I am not sure when or what it was, but I got it. I am smart!
I think as parents, educators and society at large, we must not separate creativity from intelligence. Who can deny that creative people are smart? Perhaps some of their smarts don’t manifest in the usual way. One may be a genius with color or design, one who can draw anything or one who hears music in their head all the time. Being able to understand and solve abstract math problems at sight is not necessarily the only thing that makes one smart.
Ideal is to use creativity with intelligence to design something new. All children have something in them where their creativity can express itself. We need to find it, explore it, cultivate it and applaud it. Don’t separate it from intelligence. It is part of being a whole person. Education ‘s goal is to educate the whole child, to discover, enhance and use the spectrum of talents.
This part of education must happen for all children. Having the arts or the opportunity for creative expression is not just for a privileged few. It is not for school districts which have the money to offer these opportunities. It must be for all children. The innate potential is there and a quality education includes the chance to discover creativity for all children. Working with many children who are deemed “at-risk,” they all want the opportunity to create. Limitless are the opportunities for their self-expression.
Value creative and smart. Use these extensions for learning in all classes. Science and Mathematics have endless connections to art and music. Don’t box each child and the academics that they need to succeed. Every child should have the opportunity to be a great reader and express themselves through words. A great idea is only a great idea if it can be communicated. Add to that picture, a portrayal, a mosaic or a painting.
Design, analyze, reevaluate, amend and rework. Create something new. Use concepts from Math and Science. Express them by designing and building. Use color, texture, design, shape, line and form to express. Show me you understand. Show me you are smart. Teachers urge all to express themselves creatively and value that expression.