Creativity is Messy

“And my contention is, all kids have tremendous talents.  And we squander them, pretty ruthlessly.  So I want to talk about education and I want to talk about creativity.  My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.”  –from Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk Are Our Schools Killing Creativity

When I think of creativity, and especially creativity in and with children, a picture of messy often comes to mind.  And honestly, when we let go as parents and teachers of a situation where creativity can flourish and take off, it often turns out to be a rather organic and messy proposition.  But when we give our children the creativity green light we are often astounded by what they deliver, the problem is that we spend more time signaling red lights than green lights.


As we grow older we have a tendency to lose our love of messy.  We like the neat and orderly, we like things in their place.  We no longer like to run in the rain and splash each other in the puddles, or squirt each other with the water hose, and play in the mud for hours on end.

We like everything where it should be…

That is why creativity is so difficult, it requires risk taking and facing the unknown.  Two things that are not usually neat or orderly.  If we are going to get to the core of creativity and grow it within our children we are going to have to determine that we are willing to live with messy.  It takes us being vulnerable and giving up our control over the process.

And how can we expect to foster creativity in our schools and classrooms when everything we do (as adults) is about the neat and orderly.  We are often more about the 3 R’s of rules, rows, and regulations than we are about learning and creativity.  Letting go as an adult is often difficult, even painful.

We worry too much about the “What If’s?”  What if an administrator comes in my room? And what if the desks are not in rows?  And what if the students are out of their desks and talking, what if…

Creativity is about messy.  We can no longer choose to pour our students through a funnel and have everyone come out a standardized version on the other end.

We have to allow a little messy into the process if we are going to get to what if…


3 thoughts on “Creativity is Messy

  1. Pingback: In Spite of Schools

  2. We have to meet & teach students where they are at. Creativity is so undervalued yet over due in schools. The last thing we can as teachers do is not facilitate out-of-box thinking..!
    Thanks for the post..

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