A few months ago, my husband and I were discussing the difficulty of setting ourselves and our businesses apart in this day and age of increasingly cluttered tableau not only in the real world but in media and social media alike.
He told me very simply that with information at every person’s fingertips in this “i-Google mo lang!” world, he realized that what will truly set us apart is not a wealth of knowledge but a wealth of creativity.
Now, I’m an addict of Tedx Talks and it just so happened that at that time I stumbled into the eye-opening talk of Sir Ken Robinson about creativity and education. (Link here.) It blew me away.
I really recommend you watching it yourself but to simplify the message, Sir Ken Robinson talks about how schools are actually killing creativity by penalizing mistakes, which is essential in creative thinking.
It was an eye-opener for me.
I’ve always believed that my role in parenting is not to make sure my children get good grades but to prepare my kids for the next stage of life. After watching that video, I fully appreciated the value of my kids’ school focusing less on rote memorization and more on understanding the concepts by doing projects and using essays because there are multiple ways to get the correct answer instead of the traditional identification and multiple choice exams of the past.
However, I am painfully aware it isn’t enough.
Short of pulling my children out of my current school, I decided that I had to find a way to foster more creativity in my kids and it would begin this summer. I decided that my kids’ should have fun activities that focused on creativity… after all Albert Einstein did say that “Creativity is Intelligence having fun.” As a result, all academic programs weren’t even on my shortlist of potential activities.
I knew the standard creativity inducing activities are arts and music programs.
I veered away from arts classes where all the children seemed to produce work that look the same. I found a really good arts teacher named Hannah in Cebu (highly recommended by friends) where all the children’s outputs were VASTLY different from each other. I love that you can really see the uniqueness of the child in each of their work even if the input of the teacher was the same. I wasn’t disappointed at all. My children enjoy their once a week art sessions. It begins with basic lessons and ends with an open-ended project where the teacher gives a theme and the child can do whatever they want.
However, the breakthrough program for me was really Lego Robotics. Like anything in this world, not all Lego robotics programs are the same and much of the value of any program depends on the teachers. I had my children do trials of all the Lego Robotics programs available in Cebu and this is the one that really impressed me.
It is a program held in Compass Education run by a wonderful lady named Anna. My children really loved their trial session.. they loved it so much they begged to have it every day. However, what really impressed me was the end-goal of her program.
It begins with the basics because, let’s face it, you can’t create if you don’t have a basic foundation to stand on. It’s like asking a child to write a novel without knowing how to make a sentence. Every leg of the program has free-build sessions but the at the last leg, for the entire program, they are given “quests” wherein the children are given a problem and they can build whatever they want as long as it manages to complete the “quest” they are given.
That’s what drew me in. It wasn’t the robotics per se. It was the children being encouraged to find a way, it doesn’t matter what direction their mind takes them. The children are encouraged to build and keep building until their project works by themselves. They can’t give in to the frustration of a failed build but to try again. That’s the vision that this program espouses.
I bought into her program and frankly, so far, I have NOT been disappointed. The best part is my children absolutely LOVE it. My son who is 4 years younger than my daughter but tried valiantly to keep pace with her has been completely frustrated in his journey… once, even breaking down in tears at his failed build but he triumphed in the end, and there is value in that.
I love that they are now doing free-builds with whatever lego blocks we have available at home on their own instead of always watching TV nonstop.
Even when school starts back up, I hope to continue in this journey with Compass throughout the school year although my kids are running out of modules.
Like everything in this parenting gig, I’m not sure if this is the best way to foster creativity in my children and I’m not even sure if it will work in the long term…. but it’s a good place to start.