Carl Gustav Jung argued that each of us carries within us a potential “future self” that manifests itself step by step in the present through curiosity. That is why we were so endlessly curious as children. What interested us sparked our interest and helped us become the best version of ourselves later in life.
Children are interested in all kinds of things, but most of all, what attracts them is the area they will turn to later as adults. Sometimes it is as if they hear an inner calling them to embark on a journey of heroism, where they can learn about themselves and use all their talents to become the hero of their own story.
Unfortunately, what happens most of the time is that this intuitive inner call is overheard, lost, or suppressed due to various factors. Mainly because society demands uniformed, obedient children who will be suitable to work in factories and wants to mold them to be as much alike as possible and, of course, not to think with their heads. Therefore, originality and creativity must be suppressed in childhood and adolescence, and even more, if a child is too authentic and shows his/her genius, he or she may even be ridiculed or exposed as a weirdo.
A few years ago, NASA commissioned scientists Dr. George Landom and Beth Jarman to develop a highly specialized test that could effectively measure the creative potential of NASA scientists and engineers. Dr. Ladom and Jarman successfully created a trial that evaluated creative genius and measured the ability to come up with new, different, and innovative ideas.
The test highlighted the capacity for divergent thinking, which enables the development of many ideas and the search for new variations and connections. Divergent solutions are unexpected, unusual, and even bizarre, offering a different way of seeing problems from different perspectives and going beyond prior knowledge. Therefore, the test measured the ability to innovate because innovation is the future engine. Scientists tested 1,600 children aged four to five.
The results were shocking. Almost all five-year-olds (98%) passed the test with flying colors, placing them in the ranks of creative geniuses. The scientists were so surprised that they decided to continue the study and retest the children five years later when they were ten years old. The result? Only 30 percent of the children still fell into the category of creative geniuses. However, when the children were tested at 15, the figure dropped to 12 percent. Later, in adults, it dropped to just two percent.
The scientists repeated the study several times and presented the same results repeatedly. The findings were clear. Schooling kills creativity, genius, talent, and therefore innovation in children. Indeed, school, as an institution, has historically served the wishes of the ruling class and socialized children to be obedient. Gavin Nascimento, who continues to research this phenomenon, says that children had to be brainwashed to serve the ruling elite and their needs, the greedy system, and wars.
The school system has not changed significantly.
Even though we live in modern times, the school system is still dominated by traditional education, which focuses on convergent thinking, the sole aim of which is for students to prove that they have memorized certain information. Convergent thinking leads to analyzing, separating, criticizing, and judging reduces the brain’s ability to function. At the same time, creativity can bring our capacity from two percent to the level of genius even in adulthood, says Dr. Landom.
Of course, some excellent teachers want to improve learning in schools progressively, but unfortunately, the system is designed so that their hands are mostly tied. The system does not focus on exploring and developing children’s giftedness and creativity. Personal progress is therefore forbidden, even dangerous. Those who create from their inner potentials are not only successful but also happy and healthy. They are not susceptible to marketing sales, various addictions, and inner turbulent states.
Parents want their children to discover their inner potential and develop the skills to become successful and happy in expressing their talents. Children need time and space to express their ideas, however strange and alien they may be. They need the possibility of divergent thinking, which acts as a kind of accelerator, and teachers who can follow and understand them.
What is needed is a fundamental shift – as the late Sir Ken Robinson said in his TED YouTube video Is School Killing Creativity? with 20 million views – from convergent to divergent thinking, from information systems to imagination, from endless content to discovery and skill development. So why not allow children to dance, draw, and sing in school as much as they learn math, Sir Robinson asked, adding that creativity is a gift to humanity that needs to be nurtured, and children are the hope of humanity’s future.
If we want our children to retain their creativity and thereby expand their capacity to tackle future problems such as climate change, population growth, pollution, economic crisis, and poverty … if we want them to create the products, services, and ideas that will lead the human race to a better future, it is time to change the school system.
And what can you do today for yourself and your children? If you can, find the five-year-old in you, or let your children experience and express childhood to the full, and make something new out of plain paper, marbles, rice, and maybe a straw. Create and have fun.