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Cultivating Creativity is Divine, Not Optional

Does it disturb you that children generally lose their creativity the older they get? Have you considered that this might not be accidental or a mark of maturity, but rather a result of a system that conditions conformity? As with other things in society, this is an intentional undermining of humanity and the image of God within mankind. Creativity is an aspect of the image of God and thus it ought to be cultivated through education not diminished.

God created mankind in His image, which means that men and women have the capacity to display a plethora of God’s glorious attributes. Only those uniquely divine attributes, such as eternality, omniscience, omnipotence, etc. were withheld from mankind’s repertoire. God’s first discovery of Himself was creative. He created and brought all things into existence by speaking. The first man was intimately acquainted with God’s creative power, thus it would have been perfectly natural to assume that mankind could create in some aspect as well.

Dorothy Sayers produced a wonderful work on this creative aspect of God and mankind, called, “The Mind of the Maker”. Sayers reminds us that the Trinity was involved in creation. The Father established the plan for creation, the Son carried out the work of creation (through whom all things came into being Col. 1:16), and the Spirit is often seen as the power of God influencing creation (the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary in the conception of Christ Lk. 1:35). Sayers argues that this Triune creative process is reflected in the human creative process as well. First there is the Idea, which is the purest form of the story, play, song, or software as it sits in the mind of the artist. Then Energy must be applied to the Idea to give it a true form as a manuscript or prototype. Once the Idea has been created, it is then given away and consumed by others. In the consumption, others are impacted; their lives are changed by the lyrics or prose and they become inspired to create something else. There is a clear reflection of the Trinity in the creative processes of mankind.

Children are naturally creative. They primarily express their creativity through imaginative play, portraying the stranded princess, the courageous knight, or jungle doctor who saves the distressed. (Sir Ken Robinson has spoken widely on this subject http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity) A child’s education should cultivate this creativity through creating space and a nurturing environment for it. Creativity does not run on a time table, like a pot roast, you can’t speed it up by increasing the heat and giving it a deadline. Space in a school day can be achieved through blocks of learning time that last several hours. The teacher must also realize that the project may be completed outside of school hours when that particular child is more naturally creative. Educators must not seek to make all the students the same and thus conform to one pattern. Rather each child must be celebrated for their unique gifts and the creative achievements must be celebrated alongside the analytical ones.

Finally, educators should teach the elements of creativity as noted in Sayer’s book. Children should be able to identify the idea and learn how to become intimate with it while in the idea stage. Yet they must also be resourced with the skills to bring their idea to fruition. For an idea with no expression can only be savored by the individual and is thus stifled. Teachers must focus on teaching rhetoric, design, drawing, painting, etc. in order to equip the student to give expression to their creativity.

As parents and teachers partner to cultivate creativity in students, the world becomes a more delightful place. Students are nurtured in the image of their Creator and mankind gets to enjoy the fruit and power of their creativity.

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