"A world population of creative problem solvers should be more productive and happy as well as more self-confident and more tolerant and, therefore, more peaceful."
- Joy Paul Guilford (1897-1987).
Building on Guilford’s work on convergent and divergent thinking, E Paul Torrance (1915-2003) developed a benchmark method for quantifying creativity, and through his longitudinal and cross-cultural studies he discovered the “4th-grade slump” in children’s creativity. This slump could well explain why innately creative children do not naturally grow up to be creative adults. If you are creative, think back to when you were 8, or 10, or 12, to appreciate those who kept your creativity alive.
The “4th-grade slump” is a major roadblock in human creative development, and starting in spring 2017 the 6th Arts Olympiad will empower schoolchildren to overcome it. The Arts Olympiad Lesson Plan introduces students to the “Artist-Athlete Ideal” of the creative mind and healthy body. When a student portrays herself as an artist-athlete in a painting or drawing, this new self-image solidifies in her mind. The linking of imagination with embodiment liberates the natural tendency toward creativity and good health. You can invite any 8- to 12-year-old to take part in the Arts Olympiad in 2017.
Now, the development of empathy has become critically important with people bitterly divided and the world in conflict. Empathy could well be the mother of all emotions because at its finest it embraces the most outsider of out-groups—the enemy. When the Arts Olympiad winners convene at their 6th World Children’s Festival (WCF) in June 2019, one big challenge we face is how to develop mutual empathy, especially among those from diametrically opposed cultures or traditions. The three-day WCF must be a transformative experience that implants a feeling of togetherness and oneness that lasts a lifetime, and is not spurious or ephemeral.
STEM disciplines are the lifeline for an innovation economy, but empathy cannot be developed within this framework. The arts as children’s native and universal language are essential to unleash imagination, ideation, and self-expression. Sport and play are necessary to instill discipline, perseverance, and espirit de corps. Children’s holistic development as creators, inventors and innovators calls for “STEAMS Education” which integrates STEM disciplines with the arts and culture (the “A”) and sport and play (the second “S”). Educational programming and training at the WCF is based on this wholesome approach. We invite you to come join the children at their World Festival to help them bring the human race together to celebrate “Creativity, Diversity, and Unity.”
If you need a teaching tool for children’s creative and empathic development, checkout the ChildArt magazine. You can download a complimentary issue here, and then subscribe to ChildArt for your children, your elementary or middle school, or a neighborhood library.
The Arts Olympiad is free of charge, the World Children’s Festival held on The National Mall is open and free to the public, and the ChildArt magazine is free of commercial advertisements. To grow our nascent community of creative and empathic creators, kindly make a tax-deductible donation today.