The lack of free play or playing without abandon is getting more media attention than ever. Is this “Creativity Crisis” caused by technology overload or an educational system that has become so overwhelmed with ever increasing academic standards? Maybe a bit of both, as well as, societal progression. Skills needed for the 21st century still include reading, writing and arithmetic, but at a much younger age and much higher achievement level. Throw in the ability to think beyond the boundaries, be forward minded yet still have the creative ability and advanced imagination to excel and it’s no wonder parents, teachers, school administrators and district heads are banging into each other! What incredible pressure! The "No Right Brain Left Behind" Challenge is attempting to solve this creativity crisis. Based on their reported IBM poll of over 1,500 CEO’s, “Creativity was identified as the number one competitive edge of the future.”
Maybe it’s time that we looked at the state of our nation, economy, and world, and make the connection that we can’t ignore the past and must use the great common sense and foresight of our ancestors to propel forward. Sounds sophisticated, no? It's not, one of the greatest tools that our great grandparents, grandparents and even parents gave us was the ability to use our imaginations, role play and use whatever resources were at hand (not elaborate playrooms filled with ready-made costumes and scripted fantasy). Go out and play! Work out your differences, compromise and negotiate without the constant hover of adults. One of my fondest memories as a parent was when my daughter, who was maybe 4 or 5, asked me if I would stop and watch the clouds go by with her…aaahh.
We as teachers and parents must recognize this need and make time for children to stop and watch the clouds go by. We need to provide opportunities for self-expression and foster creative play. Laura Seargeant Richardson stated in her keynote at MIT’s Sandbox Summit, “Play is the greatest natural resource in a creative economy.” The Sandbox Summit supports this, “play is how kids learn, technology is an enticement by creating a forum for conversation around play and technology. Sandbox Summit strives to ensure that the next generation of players become active innovators, rather than passive users of technology.” In Douglas Clements report on Young Children and Technology, one very succinct thought resonates strongly. Technology in the 21st century “can serve as catalysts for social interaction and foster collaboration.” Recently Teachers With Apps had the opportunity to speak with developer Eyal DessouTzafrir, from the iMagine machine about slow learning and the significance of creative play. The conversation reflected thoughts from our review of Faces iMake, an app that offers kids time to unwind, have fun and most importantly, use their imagination. This is a perfect way to develop right brain creative capabilities. We lefties know just how important this is!