A recent article in the New York Times, "It's Not Mess, It's Creativity" described experiments that measured creativity differences between subjects in messy and tidy spaces. They found that test subjects in the messy room were inspired to be more creative, more likely to use divergent thinking and more attracted to novelty. The abstract concluded that participants in a disorderly room were more creative than participants in an orderly room.
Fostering creativity is not only a great excuse to lower your standards of tidiness around your home, but the time you save not cleaning up piles of LEGOs and crayons you can spend on your own creative endeavors.
Dr. Peter Gray, the author of Free to Learn, writes "You can't teach creativity, all you can do is let it blossom.". He advocates that play is not a separate "recess" from learning, but that, for young people, play is learning. Unstructured, self-directed play time is the natural environment for children to learn what they need to learn.
The study from Autonomy to Creativity found that creativity blossoms when people of any age are harmoniously passionate about their work. And people who have some autonomy and self-direction in their work are more passionate.
Mitch Resnick, at the MIT Media Lab, is exploring the benefits of the Lifelong Kindergarten model which "develops tools that engage people in creative learning experiences, emphasizing the type of interest-driven, collaborative activities that traditionally exist in kindergarten."
As we already explored in my last post on Forest Bathing, spending time in nature boosts creativity. In fact, a study done in 2012, found that people were 50% more creative after a 4 day, technology free, backpacking trip in nature.
Richard Louv, in his book The Last Child in the Woods, documents that our creativity is enhanced when we spend time in nature. He writes of becoming nature smart, "One explanation, for adults as well as children, is suggested by the “loose parts theory” in education, which holds that the more loose parts there are in an environment, the more creative the play. A computer game has plenty of loose parts, in the form of programming code, but the number and the interaction of those parts is limited by the mind of the human who created the game. In a tree, a woods, a field, a mountain, a ravine, a vacant lot, the number of loose parts is unlimited."
I think most of use would be relieved to learn that an environment where making mistakes is encouraged is a more creative environment. The ability to learn from experience was cited as the No. 1 ingredient for creative achievement in a poll of 143 creativity researchers cited in “Handbook of Creativity” in 1999.
Carol Dweck, the author of Mindset, has spent 30 years researching creative potential. Creatively talented people have a growth mindset and are "the ones who really push, stretch, confront their own mistakes and learn from them.”
Conversely, Surveillance, evaluation, rewards, and competition all discourage making mistakes and discourage creativity.
Also uncertain, collaborative, and derivative . The neuroscience of creativity is nascent and evolving. Research is suggesting many things, some intuitive, some surprising. Creativity is complex, but we are learning that, in many ways, homeschooling affords young people the time and space to foster their creativity and the freedom to cultivate it.