Creative Minds Are Developed… But Not By Requiring Disciplined Robots
Posted by Dean Holden at April 25th, 2016
by Jack Blatherwick, 4 February 2016
Creativity is the opposite of conformity.
Adam Grant is a Wharton School professor of management and psychology (University of Pennsylvania) and New York Times contributor. He offers some interesting thoughts for parents, teachers and coaches (“How to raise a creative child. Step One: Back off.” NYT, Jan. 30, 2016).
It’s interesting for hockey folks in particular because all instantaneous decisions on the rink are creative to some extent – not different, except in time, from problem solving in a math class. The clutter from being “well-coached” with systematic rules has to be suspended in that moment, and the very best performers are the most successful in this regard.
So why is it so popular to develop robots in the math class or on the hockey rink? Because this wins in the short run. However, Professor Grant believes creativity is not likely to result from this approach. Repetitive, rigid practice drills (math or hockey) might enhance skills, but they do not address the ability to use those skills at the appropriate moment in competition. Nor do extrinsic motivators, like won-loss records or academic test scores.
Those add up to “success” in a culture that equates “success” to “wins” and “scores,” but it does not produce creative minds. We might pause and consider the culture, where politicians and administrators – not teachers – have driven American elementary and secondary education steadily downhill, from the best in the world a half-century ago to one of the weakest of all developed countries today (measured by its own standards of testing, not mine).
The over-reliance on testing has resulted in a myth that a “great student” is one who can memorize answers – an expert at repeating the curriculum, but not creating anything new. So, within this environment, and motivated by a desire to engineer the child’s “career,” parents spend millions on tutoring for tests, just to memorize facts.
The same parental engineering is used to enhance athletic “careers” – provide the best skill instructors; pay thousands to enroll in the “top leagues;” travel the continent to compete with “the best;” and make each game a big-time event. Nothing wrong with any of this, but where do kids learn to be creative playmakers if each coach teaches disciplined conformity in order to win?
Professor Grant argues, “You can’t program a child to become creative. Try to engineer a certain kind of success, and the best you’ll get is a … robot. If you want your children to bring original ideas into the world, you need to let them pursue their passions, not yours.” (My emphasis, not the author’s).
Personally, I’m disqualified for advice on raising children, having raised only puppies; and honestly, that passionate robot doesn’t sound too bad compared to independent-minded puppies. But if the goal is creative children and creative teams, coaches and parents must learn when to trust young, inexperienced decision-makers, when to let them have fun and learn by trial and error.
Rink sense (creative instantaneous decision-making) is the most important skill in hockey, actually tied with gritty competitiveness. So, let the learning begin. Back off, and let it happen.
<This is what Sport IQ teaches… hockey sense / decision-training; through our scientific coaching methodology and unique curriculum. I have yet to find anyone on the planet who is similar to this approach! – DH>
Category: academics, age-appropriateness, brain, career counselling, creativity, deliberate practice, education, effort, environment, evaluation, financial cost of sport, game intelligence, learning, mindset, motivation, parents, passion, patience, recommended reading / books, research, talent development, talent selection, teaching, work ethic