I recently saw an interview with Wharton School professor Dr. Adam Grant who explained how non-conformists move the world.
He said we need creative kids in the world because kids who aren’t creative grow up to become adults who conform all the time, and conformity is dangerous.
Take Nobel Prize-winning scientists, for instance. What did they do differently from their peers? Scientists with artistic hobbies were much more likely to win a Nobel Prize.
Nobel Prize winners in science are twice as likely to play musical instruments.
They’re seven times as likely as their peers to draw or paint.
They’re 12 times as likely to write fiction or poetry
And get this, 22 times as likely to perform as dancers, actors, or even magicians.
Einstein was an example of this.
His mother wanted him to learn to play the violin and forced him to take lessons, which he hated. He didn’t like anything that authority figures forced upon him.
It was only a few years later that he discovered Mozart’s sonatas and fell in love with them. And he chose to play the violin on his own accord.
Later, Einstein said that his Theory of Relativity was a musical thought, and had he not gotten personally interested in the violin, he never would have transformed physics.
According to Grant, here are three ideas for raising highly creative, original children.
(1) Focus on values over rules. If kids are always expected to follow all the rules, then they end up just basically trying to please adults, which is not useful for teaching them to think for themselves.
You can help get kids to think about themselves as creative by actually praising their character, not just their behavior.
(2) Encourage them to think “outside the box,” to turn the picture upside-down to look at it. Express that “You are a non-conformist. You are somebody who thinks differently.” They are much more likely to internalize it as part of their identities and want to be creative.
(3) One of the best predictors of how creative a generation becomes are the children’s’ books that are popular when they’re growing up. Books where kids are actually doing things that are creative and haven’t been tried before.
It’s a great idea to read these kinds of books to kids.
But we can go a step further as parents and ask them for different kinds of situations that they would confront. For instance, “What do you think Hermione would do in a situation like this?”
They’re much more likely to learn to “perspective-take” and to imagine what they would do, not only through their own instincts, but through the eyes of others.
These are great ways to get them to think more creatively, because creative children are the inventors and visionaries of the future.