Have you ever watched an infant?
From the moment they push their way into this thing we call life, every moment is a moment of discovery.
We are born creative. We are born curious about every aspect of life, every moment a new experience requiring learning and imagination, and more than a little courage.
Erich Fromm once said, “Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties,” and, indeed, for an infant bravely entering life in an uncertain world, survival itself is dependent upon creativity.
I have long believed that infants are the most creative human beings alive. It is our job as adults to nurture that creativity. Simultaneously we must instill within them the knowledge necessary for successfully living life on their terms.
To define creativity is to limit it. Creativity exists in everyone. Everyone has creative traits that can be nurtured and cultivated.
An infant grows into a toddler; a toddler grows into a child. Children become teenagers and eventually young adults. Along the way, they learn lessons. Uncertainties are replaced by knowledge, self-awareness, trusted instincts, and, well, certainties. Within that growing sense of self-awareness, it becomes vital to support children and youth as they discover not “if” they are creative but “how” they are creative.
Some will be the writers and the storytellers. Others will immerse themselves in visual landscapes through photography, painting, film, and other graphic arts. For others, numbers will illuminate the universe as they explore everything from simple equations to worlds not yet discovered. Athletes, dancers, and yoga masters alike will explore, express, and find their creativity within their physical being. The rhythms of life will flow through our musicians, instrumentalists, composers, and singers. There will be those who guide us toward the lightness of our being through humor and play. Creative children and youth will become the team-builders and collaborators upon whom communities are built and new visions come to life.
From those first moments of infancy, life becomes a series of problems to be solved. When creativity is nurtured and cultivated, our children and youth become our problem-solvers, inventors, and systems innovators.
They become our leaders, organizers, motivators, and world-changers.
By fostering creativity, we promote self-confidence in children. Creativity in children enhances problem-solving capabilities. It promotes physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual maturity. It teaches concentration and focus. Oh, and creativity celebrates fun. The benefits listed above prove that it is essential to nurture our youngest creative natives.
For some children and youth, creativity will be the coping skill that helps them survive difficult childhoods and traumatic experiences. For other children, it will be a road to self-discovery and self-expression.
The capacity to imagine new possibilities and to explore new wondrous solutions is a distinctively human trait integral to our very existence as human beings. Children are the most creative natives to be found when allowed to be. They express openness to uncertainty and boundless curiosity.
The young creatives whose stories come alive in these pages are the lovers and dreamers, fact finders, and change makers of the now and the future. They have opened their minds and their hearts to new possibilities for themselves and the world around them. They have survived, thrived, explored, and, yes, created.
They are, most certainly, creative natives.