Monday, 2 April 2012

Blip: Talentless sprogs or 'Creative children'

I've had a request to talk about a certain idea that seems quite far spread and that is the idea that children are 'imaginative' and 'creative'. This idea also leads to the belief that as we get older we lose our creativity and imagination due to the oppressive nature of society. I think this is total rubbish and I'll explain why.

Firstly, a simple breakdown of that idea leads to this:

-We are born with very little physical and mental prowess.
-This means we can't yet tie our shoes, open a door or solve a basic equation.
-These are skills that we will develop as our brain develops and as it gains a series of connections due to us being taught.
-Yet somehow, one single one of these processes works in reverse.
-We are born with amazingly developed imagination and as our mind grows, it diminishes.
-This means that imagination is destroyed by all other forms of growth and learning.

Maybe this doesn't seem like anything wrong to you but to me it's like saying a baby has the mind of a well-cultured, multilingual genius but loses it before they gain the ability to speak.

If that isn't enough though, consider what it is that children do that displays 'imagination'. This mainly pertains to arts and craft style activities as children learn to express themselves creatively:

-They will draw pictures of the concepts and structures that they have encountered (their parents, farmyard animals, simple vehicles, flowers etc.)
-They will also synthesise new ideas by randomly mixing their current ones together. A monkey with elephant ears or a sunflower on wheels.)
-Vain, overbearing parents see this and declare their child a creative genius who far surpasses their own ability and intellect (no argument there) .

This is indeed something that many children do. For now we will ignore the fact that children's pictures across the world end up looking very similar due to a limited subject matter and drawing skill but it's worth mentioning.

The problem is that this statement relies on one very shaky thing: that adults have much less imagination than children. So, for some reason, we are implored to ignore everything creative that an adult has ever accomplished:

-Literary works such as Dante Alighieri's 'Commedia' (or the Divine Comedy)
-Paintings like 'The great red dragon and the woman clothed in sun' by William Blake
-Poems such as 'The tell-tale heart' by Edgar Allen Poe

These three are examples of genres of creative expression that have given us some of the best works of art known to man. This is my opinion, as all art is naturally subjective. However, many people agree with me that these artists and the genres in which they practised are of great influence and importance. They were all done by adults.

When an artist creates something imaginative and expressive, they balance all manner of elements and bring together all kinds of influence to produce a work with meaning. This meaning is both implied by the artist and inferred by the viewer due to it being thought through so much, making comments on complex areas of sociopsychology or historical events that altered the course of further events to come.

When a child creates something imaginative, 99% of the time it is a completely random coupling of a few pieces of qualia, with no thought put in to the mix. There is no aim and no point. The only meaning there is inferred and spread by the parents who are invariably over-proud of their talentless child.

Point being, children's idea don't bring anything new to the world, they are an important part of their development so that they can learn to absorb the information around them and use this information to create and utilise a world view. This involves expressing themselves too, but only once it has had time to grow and become something worthy of being in the public forum. Anybody who tries to say that their creativity has naturally receeded over time, is making an excuse because either they've always wanted to be creative but aren't or because they have let their expressive nature degrade and it's their own fault.

Children aren't the destination in the search for creative brilliance, they are merely the first step.

Blip *signature placeholder*

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