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Blog: “But I’m not creative!”

As a little girl, I enjoyed nothing more than a pack of fresh felt-tip pens and a blank sheet of paper. It was an uncluttered world, with smiling suns in the corner of the paper, girls who could easily be distuingished from the boys because of their triangular dresses, and houses with chimneys that had smoke coming out of them. In the meantime, I was overloaded with compliments about my drawing skills and creativity by the adults around me. During talks with pedagogical staff, I soon noticed that not everyone experienced it that way. Many people immediately say “I am not at all creative!” when the subject comes up. For me, this is the perfect moment to start a conversation about what creativity actually is.

Experimenting with materials

As far as I am concerned, creativity has little to do with being able to draw well or inventing original craftwork with egg cartons and sheep wool. I dream of a world where children (possibly under the supervision of an adult) can experiment with all kinds of materials. Not only paint, paper and glue, but also lentils, screws, branches, ribbons, gingerbread, aluminum foil and masking tape. You don’t actually have to do much more. The children’s imagination starts flowing and they start making all kinds of combinations. I once breathlessly watched a three year old boy working with a perforator for 45 minutes straight. He cut holes in a sheet of paper and then looked at the paper circles through the plastic cover on the bottom of the perforator. The holes, some neatly next to each other, some overlapping, were also examined. He then opened the perforator and neatly placed the circles in a long row on the table. Next, he gathered all the snippets in a little bag and proudly took them home.

Perforator

Perforator

For me it’s all about that when it comes to the development of creativity. This boy has discovered how a perforator works, has felt how much pressure is needed to cut a hole and has experienced that it is better to put it on the table if you have three-year old hands. All kinds of words were used: circle, round, push, print, cut, lid, border and the super mysterious word perforator. Not to mention his creation: dozens of white circles and waxing and waning moons. There’s so much to do with them! It swirls like snow, you can put them on the table like a long ribbon and you can try to pile them up, even though that is extremely difficult.

If you could only borrow those eyes for a day to look at the world. Then you would put your hand in that bag of rice and feel how nice and cool that is. And in the bushes near the bus stop you suddenly found all the little gnome-sized soup bowls that had just fallen from the tree. Or you discover the options of a piece of bubble plastic again. Let’s ensure that children do not lose that way of looking at the world too quickly. Because there is so much to discover, learn and create.

Jacqueline Kock
Training adviser KinderRijk