In the June/July issue of Scientific American Mind, Robert Epstein was quoted as saying:
When children are very young, they all express creativity, but by the end of the first grade, very few do so. This is because of socialization.
He talks about how much of what children learn in school stifles creativity. In addition to the formal training, the interactions with other children can encourage them to be “normal” which can also reduce their tendency to be creative. If Johnny likes to hum and make up tunes, but Robby gets the other kids to make fun of him for that, Johnny may stop expressing himself in that way.
Being aware of how creativity can be repressed is useful in raising children, but it is also very valuable in self evaluation. Are there things that you love to do that you stopped when someone laughed at you as a child? You may be overlooking key areas that would bring you a lot of enjoyment because you gave up on them at an early age.
I’m not trying to suggest that you should avoid socializing with friends, but there may be some enriching activities that you might not want to share with others–at least not at first. You need to measure value based on how it enriches your life personally–not what others think of it. If you find painting enjoyable, then it is worth pursuing even if your friends don’t like your paintings. If you like to write music, it should be enough that it makes you happy even if your early pieces don’t win the praise of your friends.
Don’t let your social connections prevent you from exploring your creativity.
Very good post. I agree totally with Epstein and yourself. I’ve seen it happen in my own life. Socialization from family and school mates. The Love & Belonging need, one of the needs on the Maslow Pyramid – it’s a strong one. Its what drives us to want to fit in and mistakenly suppress some of our creativity.
Interesting post. One would hope that as adults we wouldn’t let social connections inhibit our creativity or creative pursuits! What is more likely is that as we mature we fall prey to socialization inhibiting our individuality and quirkiness… and that IS a shame. Being true to ourselves – within reason and the constraints of a work environment – is the challenge. I’d be interested in hearing how your readers deal with this issue……
Thanks for posting this!
I remember a similar quote from Daniel Pink’s “A Whole New Mind”.
Younger children all want to become artists, but the older they grow the fewer choose such a career.
The entire book is actually about rediscovering the right half of your brain. Design, Symphony, Play, etc. Very interesting read.