Independent schools like Oak Hill Academy are havens for challenging academics and individual expression. Individual students are given the opportunity to develop their special talents while achieving confidence to take on difficult tasks. Creativity is more than just intelligence; it is a thirst for understanding and the discovery of how things work, as well as the thought of how something can get better. Creative people have a strong desire to work hard and carry out what they love doing. They are able to persevere, concentrate, have an exceptional drive, and have an open mind to look under every stone. Creative geniuses have a few common traits which moves them forward including high levels of grit and the ability to lose themselves in meaningful work. This high level of grit, research tells us, is a better predictor of success than just intelligence.
So, how can we help our children acquire enough confidence to embrace the unknown, explore to find their special talents, and reach their full potential? First of all, give children the freedom to tolerate the fear of the unknown and to understand that perfection is not always the desired goal. Enjoying the process, as much as the ultimate outcome, is essential for a rewarding life experience. Obstacles must be viewed as opportunities to explore and to make progress.
Secondly, we know that curiosity fuels the imagination. Einstein once said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Allow our children to try new activities and places to see which will open up new ideas and will encourage deeper discovery. Two bases of creativity are our children’s love of reading and their desire to put their thoughts on paper. These skills can open up many avenues of adventure and self-expression. As Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
We also know anything worthwhile will need time to mature. We know “Rome was not built in a day” nor should we expect creativity to blossom without some time carved out of our children’s list of priorities. Even a simple collection or craft can spark a lasting vehicle for creative ideas.
Also on this list is the ability to learn from others, whether they be a master or contemporary. Watch, listen, and try are the avenues that spark the imagination. What better lesson than to read a famous author or view a talented artist. Why not add to this list a visit to a great museum or attendance at a live concert. These are both wonderful memories and lasting impressions.
Finally, creative people need an audience in order to develop confidence and to help reflect on the process. With children, the best thing to do is to be available to listen to their ideas and not to be judgmental when they want to explore or try something new. The best private schools for children are safe havens where students can try, discover, and even fail, but learn from the process. And most of all, let them dream! Dreams are our pathways to fulfilling our potential and for experiencing a rewarding life.