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Friday, April 18, 2014

Creativity Fizzles Out When There's No Time For Play

Lessons Learned

The Playfulness of Creativity


Creativity dwells within a playful spirit; of this there is no doubt.  If eyes contain a playful sparkle, you can be certain that a deliciously creative scheme is lurking ready to spring from just around the corner. This creative sparkle is highly contagious and extraordinarily irresistible to children who have not yet swallowed themselves up in a plethora of doubts and self-consciousness. We learn to push the sparkle away, however, as we grow older because it feels silly and childish and an extremely inefficient use of our highly structured, scheduled, and accounted for time. Our time is far too important, far too valuable to be frittered away in pointless child’s play. Really? We readily relinquish that playful creative sparkle in exchange for the joyless lockstep of nebulous beige uninspiring “keeping up with the Joneses” expectations.  We draw ourselves closer to the comfort, security and measurability of conformity. But why? If the trade that we so eagerly choose does not set us in a happier place, then why do we not offer greater resistance, ask deeper more probing questions, or at least attempt to retain remnants of playfulness for weekends and holidays? Why do we walk away so very easily from that which makes our heart light and our smile lasting? As we move away from the creative sparkle, we clearly seem to lose a little joy, a little lilt in our step, and a little piece of our ability to see possibility, because these things are all swirling around within the wonder and delight of playfulness. Why do we allow ourselves to be herded down this sad and tired path which so easily can become a sad and tired rut? Why do we opt for sparkle-less when we surely could choose sparkle-full? Why are we surprised and then disappointed when we cannot come up with a new idea, a new plan, a new solution, a new possibility, when we have deliberately discarded the playful sparkle which is exactly where all of this originates. Perhaps it is time to discard the clock, loosen our too-tight bowties, and regain our sparkle.  So, as an elementary creative drama teacher, I am allowed the excellent privilege of playing every day. Bliss. Sparkle. Joy. No one plays better creatively than children, whose eyes and hearts are filled to the brim with sparkles and whose imaginations are perpetually ready to fully engage. For example, to the kindergartners I mention that a blue heron is sort of a shy seeming bird with very long legs; let’s walk like blue herons. Instantly, twenty perfect blue herons fill the room. Let’s walk like a scissors. Twenty snappy  scissors. Let’s swish like a sprinkler. Twenty spectacular sprinklers. And on and on we play and could easily continue  forever this way, because children never ever run out of imagination. They never run out of playful sparkle. They never run out of new ideas, new stories, or new reasons to play. Growing older does not have to mean turning our backs on that glorious, happy, wonder-filled sparkle that thrives on a playful spirit which drives imagination, creativity, and ultimately innovation.