Big Kids Need Imaginations TooHow do we keep creativity and imagination alive in our kids as they get older?
How do you fly Ebenezer Scrooge in a theatre presentation of "A Christmas Carol."?
How do you shoot a man from a cannon?
How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do we keep creativity and imagination alive in our kids as they get older?
These are four questions I often ask ...ok... it's mainly the last one.
Firstly, find someone to play Ebenezer or the Flying Zucchini Brothers and use some serious physics to make sure the safety police don’t show up. This means a strong dose of STEM skills for a show stopping spectacular not a collision catastrophe.
I recently read an article on a Chicago Business site - the link's at the end.
Using Theatre to Teach Kids Maths and Science
All about students from Lane Tech College Prep school who attended an Advanced Placement physics class at a Theatre. Their job, to use STEM skills to create the stage design for the play "Uncle Vanya," the students applied ratios and measured out the area on the stage to create the “lounge” and meet the brief. A similar activity saw students used torques and motors to make Ebenezer fly. A commendable combination of science and arts for hands-on learning.
But, we all know that STEM won't be enough in the near future because AI and computer algorithms take care of these roles Instead we need a move towards STEAM. (if you don't know you can read about it here)
Secondly, last week I won tickets to The Webber Bros Circus. There was a long 45-minute wait outside in the rain, while a team of experts dealt with opening night glitches. You may have also been there and seen there’s something ridiculously funny about a super duper human cannonball, a daring flight, safe landing, release of tension and dissipated anticipated failure.
And of course, the following questions flooded my mind….
How did they launch the guy?
Was it hydraulics?
What happens if the projection is wrong?
Will he break his back?
Was gunpowder used?
Do I have an overactive active imagination?
Yes, I’ve an overactive imagination …
we would’ve smelt gunpowder and safety police would’ve been notified.
But one more question…how to eliminate human error?
As mentioned, future mathematic algorithms and artificial intelligence could sort the physics and prevent a soggy late start so the only job left would be the human cannonball. Problem solved.
Two down, two to go.
Maria - a creative soul, loved to sing and dance and had a knack for using her imagination to turn bad things into favourite things. She loved God, had a deep faith but she struggled with life in the convent. Her situation seemed impossible because the options were too narrow.
So, you know the story, she left, became a nanny and won the hearts of the Von Trapp family with her inner gifts of creativity, imagination, sense of humour and vivacity and helped them all flee from the Nazis. No STEM combo mentioned.
What’s the relevance?
As a novice Maria was in a system where she couldn’t express her creative inner gifts. Thankfully, she had the Blessing of the Mother Superior and was found a job where she could embrace her creative strengths and flourish.
Which brings us to the final question.
Most of us feel that school isn’t cutting the mustard, it doesn't cover all the bases. On top of a hamster-wheel of concerns about literacy and numeracy basics, there’s also growing awareness that the system isn’t helping kids find their creative strengths and gifting.
In 2016, I asked a group of my intermediate drama students what they did at break times. Answer: play a sport or just stand around. One 11 year old shared her love for imagination games but was almost in tears as she relayed that no one at intermediate school plays make-believe. She was experiencing loss of her creative outlet. The others added there was an unspoken expectation to grow up and stop playing at their age.
Schools promote that self-worth is found in academic success and leadership and ignore the rest.They can’t teach, measure or standardise creativity, imagination, playfulness, vivacity, thoughtfulness or daydreaming so creative gifting isn’t rewarded or recognised.
Our creative gifting underpins who we are, our self-expression, our uniqueness, our point of difference, even our weirdness and sets us apart giving us something more to offer.
We get educated, we work hard, we pay debts, we fill up time, get stuff, do activities, be entertained, pay taxes then die.
So if school isn't doing it,
how do we help our kids keep creativity and imagination alive?
As a family...create and imagine together...
These are mini forms of drama games, relaxation techniques for actors and storytelling I've adapted for you.
- Day Dream and be silent. Set aside imagination time for the whole family, find a special spot to sit, switch stuff off, listen to the silence, be still, take a moment to put all your distractions into little boxes you can sort them later … eventually, you will remember how to daydream.
- Take time to share and listen to the wonderful creativity that bursts from your daydreams.
- Play storytelling games ask: If you could be a Muppet what Muppet would you be. It all started on Sunday when we were having rare dinner altogether. This question turned out to be a hilarious tool for identifying inner gifts. Now we play every Sunday, but, usually by txt message. The subject is changed to things like planets, weeds, holiday locations, health food, medicines anything I can think of. I share the replies so everyone is in the loop. Simple for teens, over quickly without too much required.
- Another one is: Think of two animals that are extremely different, one gives something to another one, what happens next? Yesterday we had a Penguin giving a giraffe kiss because the giraffe had reached into the water with his long neck and saved him from the fishing net. My teenagers love spurring each other on to think in extremes. Tip: Go fast because spontaneity is king. Planning kills the imagination!
- Play Charades or Who’s line is it anyway (from the Canadian TV show)
- Have technology days off to stimulate the creative mind. If the kids say “I’m board” say “ That’s ok, the best ideas happen when you’re board.”
- Regularity is the key, schedule it, practice, persevere. Keep it realistic, not too many rules, short burst to begin. It takes 21 days to form a habit (or break one).
I don’t use technology in my drama classes but at home, I use it creatively. Forget perfection it’s about the process not the result and there’s so much digital creating to do, take photos, make music, movies, stop-motion, write, record audio stories, podcast, demonstration and did I mention coding as a creative pursuit?
It can be a struggle to be creative when life takes over so I've set up a place to support each other and share in a Facebook Group, it’s open to join now!.
Here's the link.
Originally I set it up for Making a Scene parents, but its now open as a place to support and share about keeping creativity alive and future proofing our kids. If your child comes to Making a Scene drama classes or just loves imagination play at home keep them going, especially when the going gets tough (a.k.a pre-teen and adolescence) we can inspire each other!
So please join the conversation with like-minded people we'd love to hear from you.
You can also follow me on Pinterest where I share lots of creative activites.
On Instagram for inspiration and the see all the creative things I do
and don't forget to let your friends know by liking and sharing the
Making a Scene Page on Facebook
and don’t forget to tag and share #makingscene
Oh and by the way...
Creating empires on Age of Mythology
doesn’t even rate!
Here's the link about the Chicago School.
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