I often hear people criticize internet users for being mere consumers of the content. These critics say that nowadays kids spend a lot of time online but they only consume but rarely create. Well, yes, but do we really encourage our kids to be creative?
When I was at school, I mainly experienced learning via lecture-style instruction, where there was little space left for making something new and authentic. The knowledge had already been created by the great minds and we were supposed to consume or ‘acquire’ this knowledge. I got few opportunities to create things of my own or respond creatively to someone else’s content. Yet I’m presently the kind of person who reads an article and immediately, often already in the middle of it, feels the urge to react, respond, reply, create. Yes, I’m a little impatient and I often have to force myself to read to the end to make sure my opinion will be relevant. I believe that by expressing opinions, readers add a new dimension – a new layer – to what has been written. That’s why I love online discussions and blogs where I can respond and have a dialogue with the author and other readers; I feel that I’m not just a passive consumer of other people’s thoughts and ideas and I actually re-create the original text.
I believe that all people love creating something of their own, something that will leave a trace, a mark, even if just for a while – a wooden table, an essay, a photograph, a house, a cake, or a paper plane. It’s something as natural as the desire to be loved. Very small kids enjoy playing, as well as drawing and painting pictures, building sand castles and cube towers, which they are eager to share with their peers, teachers and parents. And they are free to do it when they are young and cute. Nobody tries to stop them; nobody makes them just look at the works of other kids. They wouldn’t accept it anyway. So what later forces us to gobble up the knowledge created by others and we don’t (or can’t) even protest. We slowly learn to conform to this way of learning. But having become conformists, we don’t stop craving for the opportunity to create. Some of us are lucky and we are enabled to create, but others feel they will never get the chance. However, people don’t have to ask for permission; they just need the confidence to take action. Nevertheless, people often give up because they feel they can never come up with something worthwhile and new. But as everybody is unique, the things they create are unique as well. Two fellow cooks can never make identical dishes, two kids will never draw identical pictures and two people never see the same rainbow. And that’s it. Let’s stop being shy because we believe that what we’ve ever created was crap. It may be true but next time it can be a masterpiece and by creating ‘crap’ one actually learns more than by mere consuming.
This post was inspired by a group of my students who are in the process of creating their own video. In the beginning, they were really enthusiastic; they had big plans and they wanted their work to be amazing, professional – simply flawless. Now they are in the stage of ‘Oh, it’s not as wonderful as we thought it would be’; they feel their plans have fallen through. Well, they’ve come to the inevitable point in the process of creation – doubts. But I believe this will be valuable experience for all of them; they will learn from their ‘mistakes’ but they will also learn to be more realistic in their expectations next time. Some tasks that appear to be a piece of cake may actually require a lot of skill, effort, efficient team work (and a bit of luck too). Anyway, I’m convinced that they will like their work in the end, especially if they get support and positive feedback. I keep my fingers crossed for them.