Sunday, July 11, 2010

Creativity Crisis

Lord of the Green Dragons has a post called "Lessons to be Learned."  It is essentially a link to an article at Newsweek titled The Creativity Crisis which you can find here.
"In middle childhood, kids sometimes create paracosms—fantasies of entire alternative worlds. Kids revisit their paracosms repeatedly, sometimes for months, and even create languages spoken there. This type of play peaks at age 9 or 10, and it’s a very strong sign of future creativity. A Michigan State University study of MacArthur “genius award” winners found a remarkably high rate of paracosm creation in their childhoods."
Paracosm.  Cool name.  I was always curious why more of my so-called peers and school-mates didn't have their own worlds.  For a while I thought it was just another after-effect of my having been through so many bouts of hellish pneumonia, intense fevers, drowning in my own lungs, even the N.D.E.s which we didn't call that back then.  But deep down, I've always held out hope that other folks likewise had their own invented worlds...I was so happy and relieved when I discovered Tolkein and when Tim introduced me to OD&D in Junior High.  That made a real difference to me.
"From fourth grade on, creativity no longer occurs in a vacuum; researching and studying become an integral part of coming up with useful solutions. But this transition isn’t easy. As school stuffs more complex information into their heads, kids get overloaded, and creativity suffers. When creative children have a supportive teacher—someone tolerant of unconventional answers, occasional disruptions, or detours of curiosity—they tend to excel. When they don’t, they tend to underperform and drop out of high school or don’t finish college at high rates."
No Shit.  One sympathetic and supportive teacher can really make a big difference.  But even with three supportive teachers on your side, all it takes is one jerk to derail a young person who is vulnerable, incredibly vulnerable during their formative years.  It can be hard enough to fight your way up from a hateful, evil family situation that isn't any of your fault without some sanctimonious self-righteous jerkwad to screw thigns up.
"They’re quitting because they’re discouraged and bored, not because they’re dark, depressed, anxious, or neurotic. It’s a myth that creative people have these traits. (Those traits actually shut down creativity; they make people less open to experience and less interested in novelty.) Rather, creative people, for the most part, exhibit active moods and positive affect. They’re not particularly happy—contentment is a kind of complacency creative people rarely have. But they’re engaged, motivated, and open to the world."
There is no contentment for artists.  That is an antithetical value that is flasely projected upon and indoctrinated into young people as though somehow 'Everyone' needs to be content.  Bullshit.  Only sheep need to be uniformly content.  Not artists.  We don't need contentment because we have art, passion and drive--those messy, organic things that scare the conformists, frighten the would-be arbiters of taste and confound the rules-makers trying to tell everyone else what they can't do.  (Good rules are open-ended guidelines that enable and empower, not extensive and arbitrary restrictions on what you can't do.)
Read this article.  It might help you understand how screwed-over some of your friends have been up to now and maybe we can do something about not screwing-up the generations coming up now.  That'd be cool.  Kids encouraged to get fully engaged with their imaginations and to run like hell with whatever the Muse hands them.  Can you imagine it?  How many new Tekumels might we finally see then?  What totally new and so-far unnamed and unthought of stuff might become available with just a few kind words, some encouragement and understanding?  If there's a crisis in terms of creativity, it's that there simply isn't enough of it and our current culture is stifling and hampers the free expression of real creativity as monolithic market interests choose to instead peddle corporatized sanitized conformist-script pablum instead.  Reject the mediocre.  Create.  Find that world we all are given early-on and bring it back.  We need it.  Now more than ever.


  1. Well, your Riskail is further evidence that the gift was passed on to our generation, at least.

    I've long held the belief that (RP + education) are the keys to a fuller personal development in that critical phase of life, and would set the foundation for a better citizen.

    No wonder the education system works the way it does...

  2. @Timeshadows: Thanks for the compliment. I'm very impressed with your Urutsk. Fun stuff.

    Education is much like anything else: you get what you pay for. There's no need for conspiracies when we have a broken system that the majority do not wish to fix. Either pay a little for education, or pay much, much more for incarceration. Simple choice.

    Role-Playing is a good tool for tapping into creativity and imagination--when handled well and consciously used as an adjunct to cooperative imaginative play.

    We need to encourage people to look at Tolkein, Moorcock, Barker and the rest as people we could at least try to match, attempt to beat, or maybe sit down across at the tale and not be just a fan or a follower, but some kind of fellow traveler, co-explorer, even (eventually) a peer. Ambition is not a dirty word. Empty entitlement is. Instead of investing decades in another man's vision as the intellectual equivalent of a sharecropper, why not invest decades in one's own vision? Ah, but I'm speaking to the choir on that one...

    Thanks you for being out there. It's good to know that you're not the only one pursuing some mad dream out past the perimeter of what is known, labelled and pre-packaged...

  3. Instead of investing decades in another man's vision as the intellectual equivalent of a sharecropper, why not invest decades in one's own vision?

    Because freedom is scary and hard, and the burden of expectation exhausting. ;)

    I'm entirely not surprised that the education system is working to breed initiative and creativity out of children; those are the last traits the warders want to teach the inmates of what is - functionally speaking - little more than an extension of the prison system.

  4. @Chris: Yeah. Freedom is scary. Tranny is worse. Maybe Pink Floyd's The Wall is too old-hat and antiquated for kids to relate to anymore.
    I have a daughter in High School now...and what I see bears you out; school is more an extension of prison than anything I remember. That's why we're doing all we can to help her learn to become self-educating. At least they let some inmates play D&D...

  5. Definitely in agreement re: School & Prison.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...