As kids we were immensely creative. We created sandcastles and had imaginary friends. We took out LEGO and our dolls and we made up stories. We colored outside the lines and made crafts that looked like, well, nothing. And we shared these creations with our families.
Then we were put into school systems that emphasized learning mathematics, grammar, science. Some of those things can be genuinely creative. Grammar and spelling help us write amazing stories, poems, and screenplays. Science lets us experiment with mixing vinegar and water, blending primary colors together, making rockets, curing diseases. Mathematics can be translated into some amazing art. Some schools have music, art, and drama programs that students are required to participate in — but making something mandatory doesn’t necessarily inspire creativity.
WHY DO WE STOP BEING CREATIVE?
The emphasis is on memorization and getting grades to move onto college and university (partly because school funding is based on test results). Reading, drawing, daydreaming, and playing in class is discouraged and often punished. Homework is around non-creative activities leading kids to spend less time creating at home.
Other times it’s because we are drawn to certain subjects. We find we excel in maths, computer science, chemistry, and so we set our focus there. Often with the goal of pursuing it in university and then as a job/career.
“We were being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I always thought that was an unfair question. It presupposes that we can’t be what we already are. We were kids.”
We put so much emphasis on kids growing up and becoming something. But discourage them when those ideas are not mainstream. It’s as if we’re saying creativity isn’t a good life choice.
WHY WOULD WE PICK CREATIVITY AS A CORE VALUE?
In part because the Mazu team is made up of highly creative individuals. Artists, designers, writers, developers, testers, marketers, and digital content specialists create something every day. And for many of us it extends outside our workday. We write stories, submit our art to galleries and coffee shops, play games, take pictures, or simply engage in play with our children.
We’ve turned creativity into a career, but know the value of pursuing it outside the nine to five. It is Mazu’s mission to awaken families with love. By creating, and sharing those creations with one another we are building connections. We’re sharing stories, feelings, thoughts, perspectives.
CREATIVITY CAN’T BE THAT IMPORTANT IF WE GROW OUT OF IT.
We don’t grow out of it, we just shy away from it. We believe everyone has the capacity for creativity and that creativity is part of what makes humans unique and happy.
It isn’t exclusive to children and those who turned that creativity into a career. Creativity exists in all of us, but what happened as we grew up is that we stopped practising. We fear criticism and not being good enough. As adults, we often think the only people that can be artists are the people who are born with talent and who cultivate that talent throughout their lives.
We don’t write stories about dragons battling robots because we think we should only write if our goal is to be published, or that we’re not good enough to be published. We don’t draw because it never really turns out like we think it should. We don’t sing out loud or dance around the house. We think these pursuits are childish, and hey, we’re adults now.
IF IT DOESN’T GIVE US A FINANCIAL OR PHYSICAL RETURN, WHY SHOULD WE DO IT?
So many studies have come to show that creativity is a crucial part of a child’s development. It teaches them divergent thinking and how to be better problem solvers. It aids in developing physical dexterity and social skills (as they navigate how to play games with other children). We may see it as simply “fun” but it is so much more than that.
As adults and business professionals we can benefit from creativity. Think of some of the great leaders in science and technology. Would you say they were creative? Absolutely!
Things move at such a fast pace these days that you need to get creative to solve problems. We need to expand our idea of what is possible and you need to be able to think creatively to do that.
HOW DO YOU ENCOURAGE CREATIVITY?
Yes, it can be hard to give up control and let your kids get messy. When they’re drawing weird shapes that are supposed to be your family, but kind of look like tadpoles, talk about their choice of colors and what you really like about it. When they’ve turned their pyjamas into a cape and built a fort in their bedroom, ask them what their superpower is. Creativity is not about perfection, it’s about exploration.
Whether it’s as simple as an adult coloring book or sitting down with your children to build a sandcastle. There is no deadline, no end goal. You’re creating for the sake of creating.
Creativity challenges us, helps us relax, makes us better problem solvers, and gives us opportunities to spend time with our families.
Get creating today. If you’re stuck, just do what your kids do.