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Creative Play is an Academic Pursuit

When people are talking about creative play, they often seperate it from academics. Reading, writing and arithmetic (the basic academic skills), as well as more advanced sciences and humanities are seen as crucial things to learn in school, to get you into a good college, and to get you a high paying job.

But what about creative play?

I've been both an instructor at the university level and a manager in a white collar industry and I've had the opportunity to see first hand how valuable it is for people to be able to think creatively, to generate ideas, and to innovate. People that can't get stuck. They can't solve problems, they can't imagine alternate solutions, they can't impress clients with their ideas, they can't dream up new products. The North American economy is suffering right now. The world economy is suffering right now. People with A+ in math are not going to be the ones to get us out of this. We need innovators, dreamers, risk takers. We need people that can see a vision and map out the path or the many possible paths to get there.

I think the ability to dream is important and story telling, drawing, painting, sculpting and other creative arts can all be ways of articulating dreams. At the same time, creative problem solving can be a real asset in life. So encourage your kids not only to dream of things that may seem impossible, but also get them to actively imagine how they can fulfill that dream. What do they need to do to get there? This not only gets their brain working and considering options and alternate solutions, but it can also foster a glass half full attitude, rather than a glass half empty attitude where they think dreams are pointless because they will never be realized.

So yes, ABC and 123 are helpful. But don't discount the importance of creativity as an academic pursuit and life skill. It is the creative visionaries that are our leaders of tomorrow.

This post was written as part of the PhD in Parenting Carnival of Play and the Maternal Spark Monday's Muse Blog Meme for Creative Moms.

Photo credit: jespis on flickr
« Play = a healthy job? Carnival Posts (Part 2) | Main | Carnival of Play Announcements: Creative Play Meme and Arts & Crafts Showcase »

Reader Comments (11)

Excellent post. I came over from Maternal Spark's Monday's Muse.

April 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPetula

Hear hear! I tell myself this over and over again, when I get worried because my 4-year-old can't write her name like some other 4-year-old, or always forgets the number 15 when she counts. Creativity is just as important and probably more important. The other stuff will come, but for now using her imagination and exploring creatively is just as important, if not more important.

April 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

fantastic post - Creativity is so important in academics because problem solving skills and creativity go hand in hand. It's the ability to look at things from different perspectives that allows it. Thanks for participating in Monday's Muse - I hope to see you there again sometime :)

April 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterH.E.Eigler

Definitely. When the school administration told us that they needed to get my child "back in the box", I was horrified.
Isn't outside the box where all inventors, artists, musicians and creative types live?

April 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermannequin

I definitely agree that play is an integral part of work and learning. My older son is highly play driven, and it is really difficult to motivate him to do something that is not FUN. My husband is a teacher, and continually talks about how entertaining he has to be in order to get the kids involved (6th grade). Kids are naturally connected to the pleasure principle - following their bliss. It is not as easy for me, but I have learned more and more to ENJOY THE MOMENT... Posting about play at my blog today! Thanks for a wonderful topic!

April 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Wilhelm

great post.....look at all of us in our years of "what do i want to be when i grow up", if we had been encouraged to be creative in our younger years we wouldn't be 40+ just starting on our creative journey....i have pre-made video for humor and fun.....it is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves, to play, have fun and laugh every day....first thing!!!!


April 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDarlene Siddons

Great post. I'll be the first to say I really believe in 123s and ABCs etc. but at the same time, we have to let kids be kids - let them explore their creativity - in that exploration, the learning will come as a nice perk - learning is in everyday play I think.

I also think kids are overschooled in school (if that makes sense)...

April 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

[...] so play is fun. Play creates attachment. Play makes us smart. But what are some of the physical health benefits of play? What are the nutritional requirements [...]

Too true! My oldest daughter is intensely creative, and that can get her into trouble at school, and sometimes makes talking to her at home a bit difficult. So much time in Narnia and other places! But I can see already that she is coming up with very interesting solutions to challenges.

April 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

[...] The Opposite of Play is Not Work: This great chapter talks about the fact that we can and should bring play into our work lives. Although not a parenting topic as such, I think this is useful for parents who might otherwise be drained at the end of a long and difficult work day. However, if they can find ways to make work more enjoyable, then they may have more energy and a more positive outlook when they do get home to their kids. This also talks about the tangible benefits of creativity and innovation in the workplace, which links back to my post on Creative Play as an Academic Pursuit. [...]

[...] Creative Play is an Academic Pursuit [...]

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