This is the last episode of a three part series for parents and kids around nurturing creativity with Dr. Joanne Foster. She describes capital and lower case (C/c)reativity. She reinforces that we need to value creativity in order to tap it. Let’s work together to reap the benefits of our personal and collective creativity.
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[00:00:00.580] – Steve [Intro]
Hello and welcome to the Parents as Learning Coaches edition of the Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud podcast. Parents and caregivers play many different roles and even sometimes conflicting roles as they support children’s development. The Pandemic has shown a light on the importance of parents supporting learners. In this podcast, I’ll share my experiences as a teacher, gator, parent, grandparent, and continuous learner that can support your coaching efforts.
[00:00:35.160] – Steve
Co-creating a Creative Vibe – Part Three: Strengthening Creativity Over the Short and Long Haul (Forward Momentum and Some Key Takeaways). This is the last episode of a three part series for parents and kids around nurturing creativity, with Dr. Joanne Foster. In part one, Dr. Foster provided an understanding of what creativity is and why it’s important. In episode two, she explored nurturing creativity. I strongly recommend catching episode one and two to gain the most from the suggestions she’s going to share here in part three. Dr. Foster, I’ve really appreciated learning from you in the first two sections, and I’m looking forward to gaining even more purposeful actions that I can take in this last section. Would you start us off with a review again as to why creativity is a big deal?
[00:01:34.710] – Dr. Joanne Foster
I will, and I’m just going to pause my thoughts and jump into something you just said. You used two words: purposeful actions.
[00:01:45.390] – Dr. Joanne Foster
And I think those are really wonderful ways to describe the creative process. One, the purposeful piece, the deciding to be creative. The choice, the idea that you want to do something with your imagination, with your curiosity, with your mind. So there’s that purposeful piece and then the action piece, which is the doing, the participatory part of it, the investment of time and energy and effort.
[00:02:20.570] – Dr. Joanne Foster
So purposeful action. I love that. That was a beautiful way to introduce this particular topic. And I did not know you were actually even going to say those two words until you actually said them. So when we’re talking about creativity, we need to think about where we’re going to go with it, how we’re going to take what we know and extend it in a purposeful way by actually doing things, whether it’s art, drama, gymnastics, technology, science, exploring the world in as many and as diverse ways as possible. So being our best selves, but doing it in a way that is a reflection of our own unique selves.
[00:03:07.600] – Steve
So let’s talk about cultivating creativity. And I’m thinking there’s two perspectives of this. What are the things I do for myself to tap my own creativity? And then as we look to support others, what falls on that side to foster their creativity?
[00:03:28.230] – Dr. Joanne Foster
Well, let’s start with thinking about creativity as a link – as a way for you to link your ideas, your knowledge base with the world around you.
[00:03:41.570] – Dr. Joanne Foster
So that what you experience, whether it’s hands on, whether it’s just as an observer, so what you experience becomes more meaningful, something that you want to know more about, that you might want to use to enrich your own day to day life.
[00:03:57.880] – Dr. Joanne Foster
Through creative expression. You can convey thoughts, you can convey feelings, you can convey concerns, opinions, raise questions. All of these are ways to enhance your well being, to enhance the joy that you’ll experience throughout the day. And creativity is also a way for you to capitalize on your strengths so that if you have a certain thing that you like to do, in my case, it’s writing, in your case, it might be something else. In someone else’s case, it might be musical ability. It’s a way to capitalize upon those strengths and make them that much stronger. Creativity can therefore motivate you to progress to next levels in those areas of strength and develop those strengths into into talents and into ways to encourage other people to adopt those areas of interest as well.
[00:04:55.840] – Dr. Joanne Foster
I think also that engaging in creativity enables you to appreciate it more. The more you are creative, the more of an appreciation you’ll have for it.
[00:05:15.140] – Dr. Joanne Foster
Poet Maya Angelou said, you cannot use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. And I think that that’s a very powerful statement. It’s not something that’s going to run dry like a fuel tank.
[00:05:23.920] – Dr. Joanne Foster
The more you put into that tank, the more full it gets. I think the ability to fuel your creative energy, that desire, that effort, that time, will make you stronger.
[00:05:41.300] – Dr. Joanne Foster
It will increase your brain power. It will help you to become a more interesting person, a more fulfilled person, and a more respectful person in terms of understanding our environment, dealing with problems, connecting with other people, and all of that. All of those things matter.
[00:06:03.830] – Dr. Joanne Foster
Am I sounding philosophical? Sorry if I am. This topic is very near and dear to my heart, as you can tell. And as someone who has always embraced creativity, it’s so exciting for me to be able to convey its importance and hopefully to share with others why it should be at the very heart and core of their existence.
[00:06:26.580] – Dr. Joanne Foster
From the time you wake up in the morning, I go from sunrise to sunrise and just find those moments during the day when I can be my most creative self. It may need reflection. It may need interaction. It may need playfulness. It may mean sitting quietly and writing. Whatever it is, if I can be creative, I know I’m having a better day.
[00:06:48.980] – Steve
Well, that’s interesting, because the word that was playing around in my mind was wellness. Fair to say there’s a connection between creativity and wellness?
[00:06:58.920] – Dr. Joanne Foster
[00:07:05.900] – Dr. Joanne Foster
Because your well being is predicated on how you feel, how you interact with others, what meaning you get from the day and creativity can enhance all of that. In the very first session, I said that creativity is a superpower. It’s something that we can use to benefit ourselves. Definitely, yes. Can you imagine what life would be like if no one had been creative enough to discover a cure for diabetes with insulin or had not discovered the electric light bulb? How mankind or humankind has progressed over the years has really been the result of creativity. The artwork, the songs, the games, the foods we eat.
[00:07:59.130] – Dr. Joanne Foster
Whatever we do, has a basis on having had someone previously be creative.
[00:08:09.110] – Dr. Joanne Foster
That was not very grammatical. But I’m thinking as I go here, because it’s just so important to understand that creativity is really the basis for advancement and well being.
[00:08:21.800] – Steve
So as I’ve listened to you across the three episodes that we’ve done, I’m playing with this thought that we have the creativity and the energy. What we called work or effort in the earlier sessions, is more about having it come out of us rather than it’s putting it into us. There’s things I put in, but it’s tapping a creativity that’s there. Am I in a safe spot here with that?
[00:09:01.490] – Dr. Joanne Foster
It’s there. It’s in us for the asking, but the asking is the key word here in terms of what you’ve just asked.
[00:09:08.110] – Dr. Joanne Foster
I think we need to ask questions, and there are no stupid questions. You need to ask questions, you have to listen to answers, you have to help one another find answers, you have to ask for help sometimes. And all of that will lead to next steps and to creativity. In one of the previous podcasts, I think it was the first one, we talked about how creativity develops, and it’s step by step over time in response to questions and curiosity. It involves mastering challenges. So asking yourself, how can I get to the next level? It involves effort, asking yourself, what do I need to put forth here? What kind of work must I do to get the most creative journey? Not necessarily product, but journey satisfaction, gratification around, surrounding yourself with possibilities, and then cherry picking whatever it might be that really reflects what you want to learn, what you want to do, what you want to express, and taking it from there.
[00:10:16.330] – Steve
So, personal experience. I started my teaching career at the middle grades, and then I went early childhood and grade one. And as soon as I got into the early childhood field, there was this commitment part of an educator, that I had to do everything to not have kids lose that creative spontaneity that I saw was there in the younger kids that we had to spend a lot of time building to tap into with the middle grade kids.
[00:10:54.560] – Dr. Joanne Foster
Sometimes people talk about two kinds of creativity. There’s capital C creativity, which is the kind of creativity which is major, that changes the field, like Michelangelo, Beethoven, Leonardo, DaVinci, Galileo, people whose creativity was so extreme that it just changed the entire landscape of a field.
[00:11:17.740] – Dr. Joanne Foster
And we can’t expect that of our kids. We don’t want them to feel that they are expected to come up with capital C creativity. What we will hope and again, I’m not using the word expect what we hope that they will discover is small C creativity. The joy of doing a drawing, of making a bunch of fingerprints on a paper and then connecting them into little caricatures or whatever it is they want to do. The excitement of coming up with a creation in the kitchen that nobody else has ever come up with, an unusual sandwich or a delicacy, a meal, something that everybody can share in that’s their contribution to the family dynamic. The small C creativity is nonetheless important. It’s just as meaningful to the individual because it enables them to go to the next step. And as I said, step by step by step, that’s how we build. Those big C creatives, those people out there, if you were to interview them, they would tell you they all started with small steps, in the same way that a toddler starts with little steps. That’s how we learn to run. That’s how we learn to fly and do and soar. But it involves taking a risk, sometimes a safe risk, I hope. And having that confidence in yourself to take a leap of faith and just keep going.
[00:12:54.510] – Steve
So creating the environment that supports that. I think that was part of my struggle. There were so many things about school that got in the way of kids taking those risks and pushing that creativity out.
[00:13:10.740] – Dr. Joanne Foster
Absolutley. J. M. Barry, is the author of Peter Pan, and he wrote that the moment where you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever being able to do it.
[00:13:24.050] – Dr. Joanne Foster
So I’m using that as an example – don’t doubt yourself. Just believe in yourself. Have faith in your ability. And as parents, have faith in your children’s ability.
[00:13:31.910] – Dr. Joanne Foster
You may not agree with everything they do or want to do, and you may not even be able to accommodate them. If your child wants to learn a harp or they want to do something that’s really not accessible to you in your community or given your financial constraints or whatever else, sit down and brainstorm and find ideas and think about ways for next steps so that your child has the idea that you are reinforcing, you’re encouraging their creativity, and you’re going to find ways to explore things and develop their curiosity, their imagination, their ideas and build upon them.
[00:14:13.810] – Steve
Well, you’ve shared a lot with us across these three episodes, and I’m wondering if you want to take a shot here at some of the things you’d label as the big takeaways for people to hang on to as we wrap up this last session.
[00:14:29.490] – Dr. Joanne Foster
Okay, so definitely what I just said around believing in yourself, I think that’s huge. Being open minded, so having the idea that the old expression, opportunity knocks, and it can knock in different ways, it can knock softly, it can knock harshly, it can knock unexpectedly. So being open minded, being willing, being ready, being enthusiastic about answering that knock because it will open a door to possibilities. And once you open that door, being willing to walk through it. So finding and responding to diverse kinds of experiences that might be on the other side of that doorway. So believing in yourself, being open minded, helping and encouraging one another. We are all part of a larger whole, a community, a family, a world. And the more we work together to bring out our creativity, and the more we use our creative energy to bring out what’s best around us, the better off we will all be.
[00:15:38.300] – Dr. Joanne Foster
So use your strengths, use your imagination, use your determination, your creative energy to support one another. And I think what I mentioned previously is probably the most important thing. And that will also help anybody struggling with creativity to overcome that struggle is to value your creativity, to be aware of why it’s important. And to do that, you can go back to listen to podcast one, but certainly to be a cheerleader for it, to be a trailblazer, to shout it from the treetops – creativity is important. Shout it on a beach, shout it in a snowstorm, shout it wherever you happen to be. Exercise it, enjoy it, play with it, mess with it. It’s okay to be messy if you’re creative. Just help everybody on the planet understand that creativity is about moving ahead, taking a chance, and making our lives that much fuller, whether it’s through music, art, dance, photography, sciences, whatever you happen to love, or whatever you may not even know yet that you’re going to love, just try and create your own magic. Fan the flames of your curiosity and celebrate your uniqueness. And that will help you become more creative.
[00:17:03.250] – Steve
As we wrap up, I’m wondering what thoughts you have on how parents and kids might share this podcast with others as a way of expanding our opportunities with creativity here.
[00:17:17.560] – Dr. Joanne Foster
Oh, I really like that question. It’s very creative. So one thing that you might want to do is share it with your neighbors and friends, certainly. But think about what organizations you might belong to. Whether it’s community centers, whether it’s school-based organizations, whether it might be university or learning centers, online networks. Anybody who might be interested in creativity has the opportunity whenever they want, to learn more about creativity. And the more that you learn, the more you value it.
[00:17:52.940] – Dr. Joanne Foster
And the more you value it, the more you’re willing to share and engage in the promise of possibility. Anybody who talks to anybody who has a network, who has a relationship with teachers, camp counselors, professionals in the business community. Wherever you might be and whoever you might talk to, there is some way that creativity can enhance whatever it is they do. So yeah, share this with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Get creative.
[00:18:36.020] – Steve
Thanks so much. Share with folks how to touch base with you through your website.
[00:18:42.910] – Dr. Joanne Foster
Absolutely. So people can reach me by going to my website at joannefoster.ca – the CA is for Canada. So I’m speaking to you here from Toronto, Canada, and I have a page called the Resources Page where there’s lots of articles and materials, including my many articles for the Creativity Post. I’ve written seven books and I talk about creativity in different ways within those books. So I welcome your feedback and certainly just by going to joannefoster.ca, you can find out more about my work and my presentations and reach me through my contact page there as well and I’d be happy to chat with people and connect and get creative together.
[00:19:24.670] – Steve
Well, thank you so much. It’s been a creative pleasure for me, both in putting the three part series together and doing the learning for myself. So I thank you for that. Have a great day.
[00:19:44.100] – Dr. Joanne Foster
Thanks, you too.
[00:19:45.030] – Dr. Joanne Foster
[00:19:48.180] – Steve [Outro]
Thank you for listening. You can subscribe to Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud on iTunes and Podbean. And please remember to rate and review us on iTunes. I also want to hear what you’re pondering. You can find me on Twitter @stevebarkley or send me your questions and find my videos and blogs at barkleypd.com.