Are You Raising a STEM Prodigy? Are you curious if your child has the secret sauce for STEM success? Creativity is a tricky thing to measure, but there are certain paradoxical traits that many successful STEM minds possess. These quirks may seem conflicting, but they’re actually what allows them to excel in their fields.
First off, let’s set the record straight – creativity isn’t just one specific thing. It’s not something you can just adopt and call it a day. Just like Picasso and Michelangelo had different personalities but both revolutionised the art world, the same goes for STEM.
So, what sets creative STEM minds apart? Complexity. Creative people often possess a combination of traits that wouldn’t typically be found together. They’re not just one thing, they’re a whole spectrum of possibilities.
Now, on to the fun stuff – the paradoxical traits. These can vary from person to person, but here are a few examples to look out for in your little STEM prodigy:
So, what differentiates creative people from others? To put the answer in one word, it would be the existence of inherent complexity.
Creative people exhibit mental and behavioural patterns that are typically separate in people. If your kid is creative, their personality may comprise extremes that conflict with one another. Rather than being “individuals,” each is a “multitude.” They tend to encompass the whole gamut of human possibilities inside themselves, much like the colour white does with all the hues in the spectrum.
All of us possess these traits, but we are typically taught to focus on only one pole of the dialectic. As we grow up, we may develop an aggressive, competitive character and reject or suppress our nurturing, cooperative nature.
Depending on the circumstance, a creative person is more likely to exhibit aggression and cooperation, either simultaneously or alternately. Because we typically believe that one pole is “good” and the other extreme is “bad,” we tend to suppress the whole range of traits that could be present in the human repertory.
Having a complex personality, however, will enable your kid to express all of these features. Complexity does not equal averageness or neutrality. It is not a location in the middle of two poles. It does not entail, for example, that one is always cooperative or indifferent to others’ needs. Instead, it involves the capacity to switch between extremes as the situation dictates.
Creative people are aware of both extremes and experience them equally intensely without internal conflict.
The following ten pairs of paradoxical traits that frequently coexist in such people and are integrated into a dialectical tension may make this conclusion easier to understand.
1.Loads of physical energy but also quiet and at rest.
They put in long hours, focus intensely, and exude a youthful, enthusiastic attitude. It shows a hereditary advantage or a better physical endowment.
It is not to say that creative people are hyperactive, always “on,” or working nonstop. In actuality, they rest frequently and sleep a lot. They must be in control of their energies and not under the sway of a clock, calendar, or other external schedules.
When it’s essential, they can concentrate like a laser beam; when it’s not, they begin to recharge their batteries immediately. For the success of their work, they value the rhythm of action followed by introspection or inactivity.
2. Smart and naive at the same time.
It’s likely true that people who make significant contributions to creativity tend to have high levels of what psychologists refer to as the “g factor,” or a core of general intelligence.
An early longitudinal study at Stanford University conclusively shows that brilliant children do well in life. Still, IQ seems to lose its correlation with higher performance in the actual world after a certain point.
It can be harmful to creativity to be intellectually clever. Some people with high IQs become complacent and lose the curiosity necessary to do anything new because they are confident in their superior intelligence. A high IQ person may find it so easy to learn facts and follow the established rules of domains that they lack any motivation to challenge and advance current knowledge.
The opposing poles of wisdom and childishness can also be used to illustrate this dialectic. As Howard Gardner noted in his study of the greatest creative geniuses of this century, the most profound insights can coexist with a certain level of emotional and mental immaturity.
3. Combination of playfulness and discipline
Undoubtedly, creative people tend to have a lively, light attitude. It has to do with playing about and having fun in science. Although it’s not precisely kidding, it has some humour. It’s looking for new ideas.
But this playfulness doesn’t go very far without its polar opposite, a quality of doggedness, tenacity, or perseverance. It is hard work to complete a fresh idea and get through the challenges a creative person invariably faces.
4. Alternating between Imagination and Reality
The rest of society frequently sees these novel concepts as fantasy without any connection to the real world. They are correct, too. However, the very purpose of art and science is to transcend what we currently regard as natural and to create a new reality. A leap of imagination into a universe distinct from the present is required for great art and science.
Creative people alternate the extremes of imagination and fantasy and have a firm grasp of reality. Both are necessary to escape the present without losing sight of the past.
This “escape” is not, however, into a never-never world. A unique concept is creative when we realise, despite how absurd it may seem at first, that it is true.
Ordinary people are rarely original but occasionally bizarre. For instance, if you claim that an inkblot that slightly resembles a butterfly looks like a submarine without being able to explain why your response would be rated as odd. It seems that those who are creative are original without being strange. Their perception of novelty is grounded in reality.
5. Oscillate between Extroversion and Introversion
The extroversion-introversion spectrum has conflicting tendencies that creative people seem to harbour. Typically, every one of us favours one or the other, preferring to be in the middle of the action or standing to the side and watching the action unfold.
Creative people appear to exhibit both qualities simultaneously.
The idea of the “solitary genius” is pervasive and receives much support. According to studies of young gifted people, teenagers who can’t bear being alone are less likely to develop their skills since learning music or maths demands the seclusion they loathe. However, creative people emphasise the value of seeing people, hearing people, exchanging ideas, and learning about another person’s work and intellect.
Science is a highly social field. It is essentially the distinction between this door being open and closed.
You should constantly be conversing with others. Up to a certain point, you don’t mind being disturbed because the only way you can do anything of interest is by engaging with other people. In essence, it is a collective endeavour.
There are constantly new developments, so staying informed and updating yourself is essential. On the other hand, writing, however, is obviously different. Even with the door closed, too much noise still enters the room when I’m writing, so I frequently hide in the library. It is a game played alone.
6. Humble and Proud at the same time
It is incredible to meet a famous person you anticipate to be arrogant or supercilious and instead find them to be modest and shy. However, there are valid arguments in favour of this.
Because they respect the field in which they work, they are conscious of the many contributions that have come before them, which puts their efforts in perspective. Second, they are also aware of the part luck played in their successes. Third, they frequently lose interest in their prior achievements, no matter how incredible, because they are preoccupied with present problems and upcoming tasks.
However humble these people may be, it goes without saying that they are aware of how much they have done compared to others. And having this information gives one a feeling of security and even pride. It is frequently described as a sense of certainty.
7. Escape Gender Stereotyping
Men are raised to be “masculine” in every culture, to ignore and suppress the characteristics of their temperament that the culture deems “feminine,” and women are raised to do the exact opposite. Somewhat escaping from this tight gender role categorization are creative people.
When young individuals are subjected to tests of masculinity and femininity, it is repeatedly seen that creative and talented ladies are more dominant and tough than other girls. In contrast, creative boys are more sensitive and less aggressive than their male classmates.
A person’s capacity to simultaneously be aggressive and nurturing, flexible and inflexible, dominating and submissive, regardless of gender, is called psychological androgyny.
A psychologically androgynous individual effectively doubles their reaction options and has a broader range of alternatives for interacting with the outside environment. It is not unexpected that creative people are more likely to possess both their own gender and the other’s strengths.
8. Conservative and Rebellious
Creative people are typically perceived as rebellious and independent. However, it is hard to be creative without first internalising a specific cultural area.
And to master the laws of such a realm, one must believe in its significance; as a result, one must, to some part, be a traditionalist. Therefore, it is challenging to imagine how someone could be creative without also being traditional, conservative, and simultaneously rebellious and iconoclastic.
However, being merely conventional keeps the field static, and consistently experimenting without consideration for what has previously been valued rarely results in novelty that is regarded as an improvement.
9. Passionate but Objective
Most creative people are enthusiastic about what they do but can also be incredibly objective. Many people have stated that the energy created by the struggle between attachment and detachment plays a significant role in their work.
The reason for this is rather apparent. Without passion, we quickly grow disinterested in a challenging activity. However, without being objective about it, our work is subpar and unreliable. As a result, these two extremes frequently alternate during the creative process.
10. Suffering and Enjoyment
Finally, because of their openness and sensitivity, creative people are frequently exposed to hardship, anguish, and a lot of delight. Due to their higher sensitivity, they may experience slights and concerns that the rest of us do not typically experience. It is simple to comprehend the agony.
It is also true that intense interest and commitment to esoteric issues frequently result in disappointment or even ridicule. Since the majority often views divergent thought as abnormal, the creative individual may feel alone and misunderstood. It is challenging to imagine how someone might simultaneously be creative and insensitive to these occupational hazards, but they do come with the territory.
The most revealing trait of creative people may be any of these ten pairs of opposing personality traits. It might be claimed that many more crucial characteristics were omitted. But it’s vital to remember that it’s uncommon to discover these opposing traits—or any opposing traits—in the same person.
However, new ideas won’t be acknowledged without the second pole. And they won’t mature to the point of acceptance without the first. Therefore, the originality that endures and transforms a field is typically the product of a person who can work at both of these polarities.
If your kid is one, then they surely have the potential to succeed in the STEM field and subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This is the kind of person we refer to as “creative.