Have you ever noticed how amazingly creative, inquisitive and honest little kids are? They can find the most boring object (i.e., a rock) and make it interesting and fun. I have seen kids play something like baseball, but with coffee can lids that were pitched like mini-frisbees and hit with broom sticks. I have seen kids use layers of milk cartons as baseball gloves.
Everything in a child’s world is examined and provides a learning opportunity. They can meet other kids and soon start playing, and there are no limits to what their games can become. Kids invent amazing games full of imaginative characters and situations. They enjoy pretending and playing with words, roles, objects and ideas. Being right is unimportant.
Kids also tell you what they think, without any editing. If you want a true opinion about something, don’t ask the typical adult, ask a kid. There is no political correctness in the child’s world and I love them for that! Their immunity to this free-speech inhibiting virus is essential to their open-minded exploration of the world and learning.
Unfortunately, as kids get older, they start to lose all the things that make them wonderful. They start to become ordinary boring adolescents and later close-minded adults who think and act like everyone else. They learn political correctness and many other unnecessary limits on what they can think and express. As people age, they learn to become conventional thinkers and conformists; and creativity, learning and innovation suffer.
Fortunately, if conventional thinking and conformity can be learned, it can be unlearned and replaced with unconventional thinking. This is characterized by free speech, unrestricted exploration of new ideas and a sense that everything is subject to questioning and re-evaluation. While it might not be easy or quick, anyone can learn to think more like children and increase creativity, learning and innovation. My article about thinking outside the box provides some ideas about how to start this process.