When do we teach kids to express themselves?
I spend a great deal of time worrying about creatives. To be clear, I think everyone is a creative, but here I specifically mean people who identify as a creative. And especially young people who identify as creatives.
This process of creating and exploring our creativity, and understanding what inspires us and drives us, and learning how to experiment and push boundaries, and being taught how to organize ideas and harness the power of the imagination, and learning how to carve out time to connect with our creative intuition and instinct, should be part of our kids’ curriculum. Creativity should be specifically integrated, it should be easier for kids to learn, it should be a given in their education, it should all be commonplace.
We should teach the foundations of creativity, help our kids understand how something gets created from nothing (and how nothing is ever really nothing and all depends on what we consume and how we interact with the world). We should help our kids embrace that feeling they experience deep down as they grapple with some sensation and work to express it and express themselves.
To make a life of creativity and expression is to learn how to know ourselves.
Yes, some of this guidance exists. But when do we explicitly teach our kids how to feel, imagine, think, create, express? When do we introduce them to the act of creation? And where do we draw the line between introduction and indoctrination?
Too often we're boxing them in, showing them what a door looks like and how to open it, what tools we have at our disposal and how to use them, what this world is supposed to look like and who we’re supposed to be in it, how to imagine and create, how to engage with each other. Instead, why not let them take the lead and show us? Provide some foundation, then let them run. Or walk. Or swim, or climb, or fly.
Yes we need those fundamentals (how do we establish what those are?). But once established, we have to let them engage with their own creative rhythms and work out their natural progression from one experiment and lesson to the next.
One of those foundations—and yes fully biased here, but for good reason—is writing.
Writing is no longer an exploration. It is a vehicle. It is a nuisance. It is no longer only human. And its days are likely numbered.
How many people do you see writing by hand on any given day? How often are kids writing in class?
The act of writing is as essential to our evolution as storytelling. We are the humans we are because we learned to write.
What happens when that connection from thought to body to the physical world disappears?
What happens when the path to developing ideas is no longer translated from mind to body to paper?
When we write, we build our own internal world. We create space and fill it with thought, which is transformed into energy, which propels us forward, and compels us to create.
When we write, we create a place to explore what we think and how we feel. To write requires focus and patience, which allows us to connect to our natural rhythm, to pace our discoveries, and align our natural cadence of creation with the potential before us.
Our connection to this rhythm here is important. And the routine of writing is how we stay connected to that rhythm.
As we write, we forge pathways into the dark corners of our mind and establish through roads to sensations. We return, and we are better able to hear ourselves and see ourselves.
To make a habit of writing is to get to know ourselves anew everyday, to imagine the possibilities, and ultimately explore the story of our future.
If we can instill the importance of writing from an early age, I believe we can instill the belief in our children that they not only belong here, but that they are essential to our survival.