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Doctors Sylvia and Milton Gearing have been serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1985 with compassion and professionalism.

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Creativity and Success - Aug 6, 2006

Creativity and Success

August 6, 2006

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, CBS 11 News

As children across North Texas are going back to school, many parents are wondering how to help their children achieve success in the new school year. While intelligence has long been associated with academic success, psychologists are now reporting that creativity may be even more important. Here to tell us more is psychologist, Dr. Sylvia Gearing.

Q: Why is creativity so important?

Dr. Sylvia: Creativity is a problem-solving style that devises new solutions. It is an attitude that involves risk, experimentation and spontaneity. It is a willingness to think for yourself and to even appear foolish to others while inventing a novel approach to a typical problem. Creative abilities include the ability to move past the information in front of you and to create new explanations or solutions. It's not just about thinking outside the box. We're now focusing on people who envision a whole new box! Many academics are now convinced that spontaneous, creative play is as important to intellectual development as is the classroom.

Q: So traditional methods of predicting success, such as SAT scores or grades, may fall short?

Dr. Sylvia: Yes, they do. Some of the most successful people in the world are not the most intelligent, as measured by traditional means. Creative people have an uncommon ability to achieve success by capitalizing on their strengths and by compensating for their weaknesses.

Q: Are children usually more creative than adults and if so, why?

Dr. Sylvia: When Picasso was asked about his increased ability over his career, he replied that "it had taken him a lifetime to learn to draw as a child." Yes, children are generally more creative than adults and there are a few reasons why:

Emotional Inhibition: Children are generally less inhibited emotionally than adults who have had years of socialization that disconnects them from the spontaneous expression of feelings. There are a number of reasons why kids are generally more creative.

Tolerance for the Unknown: Most of us like the world to be defined in black and white terms. Creativity involves high amounts of "gray." Kids seem to tolerate the "grays" better and are willing to hang in there until the path seems clearer.

Not Bothered by Inconsistencies: Just because things don't seem to "go together" at the time, a child is more tolerant of things that don't fit perfectly together.

Q: What can parents do to encourage creativity in their children?

Dr. Sylvia:

Redefine the Problem: When your child encounters a problem, help him to redefine the problem and to remain solution-oriented. Stand the problem on its "head" and examine it from the outside, using creative thinking. The unsolvable suddenly becomes solvable.

Question Assumptions: Creative people are incredibly gifted at asking tough questions about preconceived ideas. Remind your kids that the greatest scientists in our history were, above all, willing to be creative.

Generating Ideas: Creative people thrive in an atmosphere of spontaneous problem solving. Allow your child to generate a number of solutions and collaborate with your child to guide him to the best solutions.

Value Knowledge: True creativity builds on previous solutions. Teach your children to acquire a knowledge base and to build on the discoveries of others. Some of the greatest minds are lost to a lack of self discipline.

Encourage Sensible Risk Taking: Nearly every significant discovery in history involved a good amount of risk. Perfect academic performance rejects risk-taking and too many children restrict their path to the 'straight-and-narrow.' Parents should reward kids to learn about a variety of different things--from astronomy to pie-making.

Q: What is the main reason many kids struggle to succeed?

Dr. Sylvia: The main limitation on what children ultimately do is what they think they can do. All children need a base for being creative in order to reach original solutions. Adults have a responsibility to reinforce this self-confidence in the child. The best predictor of success among children is not their ability--intellectual or creative. It is their belief in their own ability to succeed.

This story quotes the outstanding work of psychologist, Dr. Robert Sternberg. For more information, please reference his book, Wisdom, Intelligence and Creativity Synthesized.