The Common Belief
Are kids creative? If someone were to ask this question, the answer would most likely be yes. And they indeed are. Kids are brimming with curiosity and imagination, trying to make sense of the world around them.
And why not? As parents, you want your kids to be creative. Kids can put their innovative ideas into action and turn into problem solvers. It is also the best time to get into STEM learning, coding for kids, and robotics for kids, which require some out-of-the-box thinking.
Next, if you were to choose between an adult and a small child, who is the more creative between the two, you are again most likely to point at the kid. It is a generally accepted theory that kids are more creative than adults.
Understanding the Kid’s Thinking
You might have often heard the phrase, “think like a child.” What does that mean? Well, children certainly have the gift of wild imagination. They can come up with a wide range of ideas and possibilities. These ideas may or may not work in real life.
For instance, a kid would want to fly like superman. Or some others might want to build a house on the moon because that’s what they saw in a TV cartoon. These ideas may seem wild. But this doesn’t stop them as they are not afraid.
We understand from this that kids are not tied down by their prior experience. Their brains are still developing, and the neuron connections are still forming. Their brains are malleable. Their thoughts do not follow any laid-out pattern.
This malleability makes them open to new ideas. That’s why it is usually effortless to convince a child to make them believe something.
Adults, on the other hand, are the exact opposites. Their existing thought patterns and experiences constrain them. The brains are fully developed, and the density of neuron connections is way more than in the child. Their imagination and ideas would be restricted by what they know and what they think will not work based on their past failures.
So, Are Adults Less Creative?
Adults are indeed prone to be restricted by their past experiences. However, it doesn’t mean they are not creative or less creative than kids. That’s because creative thinking is not just about imagination. Creativity is also required to solve problems and arrive at feasible solutions. It is similar to when kids are engaged in STEM activities such as coding for kids and robotics for kids, where they are required to find an appropriate solution to the problem.
Creativity is not just about ideas. It is about ideas that will work. So, if a kid wants to fly like superman, that idea must be evaluated by its feasibility and appropriateness. While imagination is undoubtedly a prerequisite for creativity, it is only a part of it.
Divergent and Convergent Thinking
To understand this better, let’s look at the concept of Divergent and Convergent Thinking.
Divergent thinking is a thinking process that looks at all options and possibilities. The thinking happens in a non-linear way. There is nothing right or wrong, and ideas spontaneously come out. So, if there is an issue, divergent thinking will require us to consider all possible solutions.
Convergent thinking, on the other hand, is more focused and linear. It aims to solve a problem and make things work by applying logic. Finding the most effective and appropriate solution is the priority in convergent thinking.
The example of a broken car can help understand the concept of divergent and convergent thinking. Say your car broke down in the middle when you were returning home. What would you do?
Answering from a convergent thinking point of view would mean you call a car technician. Divergent thinking would require you to look at all possibilities. Calling a car technician is one. Other options include repairing the car yourself, leaving it behind and coming home in a cab, pushing it and taking it to the workshop, towing the vehicle to the workshop, etc.
Now that we know convergent and divergent thinking, it becomes easy to determine the answer to the question we asked at the beginning.
Kids have an abundance of divergent thinking. Because of their still-developing brains, they can think in many different ways than adults. It is for this reason that they can conjure up some wild imaginations. Adults, on the other hand, are good at convergent thinking. They can apply logic and focus on a particular problem to find an appropriate solution.
The Last Word
Both convergent and divergent thinking are two parts of the same coin. They complement each other in the creative process. Imagination must be backed up by logical thinking to solve the problem.
So, while we can say that kids are indeed creative, they would need adult help to ensure that the ideas they come up with are appropriate.
Kids can play a valuable role in solving global problems. Adults can partner with children and involve them in the decision-making process to find innovative ideas and solutions.
When your child shares a wild idea with you, instead of brushing it aside immediately, you can focus on how to apply the concept to the current problem. In this way, you also enable the kid to develop convergent thinking. It means, as parents, you can very much help in developing your kid’s creative thinking skills when they are involved in coding for kids and robotics for kids, and other STEM learning activities.