Research: Adam Grant of the University of Pennsylvania published an article over the weekend entitled “How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off.” He reviews a number of studies about child prodigies and their ensuing careers and concludes that the way a child is raised can either encourage or thwart their creativity and what they achieve in the future. He notes that most prodigies never reach their full potential because they conform to adult expectations and interests, effectively becoming “excellent sheep.” The parents of highly creative people have few rules, encourage their children to find joy in their work, and respond to their intrinsic motivation and curiosity. Above all, they support their children’s passions, not their own.
Practice: These findings have big implications for schools, where kids spend a good deal of their day. At Chrysalis we encourage creativity by creating an environment where out-of-the-box thinking isn’t just accepted, it’s required on everyone’s part! We place a great deal of emphasis on finding children’s strengths and place them in educational programs where they will be able to incorporate their passions and interests into their learning. It means they spend more time in their areas of strength to further develop them, feel success, and develop a breadth of knowledge around them.