|POLICIES TO PROMOTE
CREATIVENESS IN YOUNGSTERS
© IFIA (International Federation of Inventors'
HOW TO ENCOURAGE CREATIVITY IN YOUTH
Children are like seeds; they need water
and sunshine to grow, and for their creativity to develop and flourish. In short, children
need to be constantly stimulated, from kindergarten through secondary school. What are the
problems encountered and what is needed to spur them on?
by Dr. Farag Moussa
President of IFIA
The first problem relates to the general environment of the country the
children and young people live in. Does it stimulate creativity? Does it tolerate and
adequately encourage new ideas and different thinking? These are indeed huge questions
that cannot be answered in a few lines.
The second problem is that it is not sufficient, as some may think, to increase the
technological awareness of the youth. More important are the educational systems
that should be oriented in such a way as to stimulate creative thinking. The teaching,
therefore, should be based on the discovery of knowledge, and the development of critical
attitudes, rather than on the passive absorption of knowledge. And this applies to all
Unfortunately, school teaching - and this is a trend all over the world - is usually
based on the child's ability to memorize. The highest marks are often given to those who
merely studied their lessons well ! The pupil whose creative side is more developed is
even considered sometimes as a disturbing element in the class.
For this reason some educators decided to encourage creativity outside the school
system, thus the science clubs which are now open to the young, in different countries,
are places where they can unleash their ideas and imagination.
Science fairs for the young are also useful. In this regard, the Youth Science
Foundation of Canada wrote:
"The comments made by the students support the concept of science fairs as a
meaningful educational and motivational tool. There are the friends you can make and the
good feeling from knowing that you are not alone in your interest in science. There's an
increased awareness of science and its importance, and a satisfaction from the 'hands-on',
direct experience not normally available at school.The judges you meet, the job
opportunities that are opened up, all these are available to young people through science
Some science clubs and science fairs are only open to students of high-school grades,
where science is taught. Children - aged 6 through 12 - are neglected. And yet there is no
age for teaching creative thinking ; it can even be advantageous to start at a very early
age. Let us look at the experience of some countries in this respect.
In Japan, a contest is organized every
year by the Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation (JIII). The children have one of
two choices : (1) they follow the year's specific theme proposed by the organizers (i.e.
safety devices for daily life, or material for use in the field of education); (2) they
choose their own theme freely. In both cases, the child inventor must submit a model in
addition to the design.
In the USA, children participating in the
nationwide invention contest organized by the Weekly Reader a well-known
periodical used in American schools since 1928 do not have to submit a model. A
drawing or a photograph is sufficient to enter the contest, the purpose of which is to
stimulate creative thinking among all the students in a class, all becoming involved in
the process of invention either individually or in small groups. The class then chooses
the best invention which will be presented later at the level of the national contest.
|Again, in Japan,
attention is paid to boys and girls from early childhood. Some children are too small to
make a model of their inventions, so they just present a drawing on paper.
A lovely example is that of a satchel with an automatic umbrella, invented by Naho
Fukui, an eight-year-old girl (see drawing).
In Holland, a competition was launched in
1990 for the first time aimed at children up to 13 years of age. They were asked to write,
and illustrate with a drawing, the solution they found to one of five problems: (1) How to
clean a lion's teeth? (2) Invent a fun machine; (3) Invent a machine that can stroke your
pet animal if you are away from home; (4) How can you quickly count the number of hairs on
someone's head? (5) How can you read a book in the bath, or under the shower, without it
getting wet? Six thousand solutions were presented to the organizers! As many came from
girls as boys. The prizes were awarded 60% to boys and 40% to girls, out of the five first
prizes three went to girls.
P.S.: Concerning girls in particular, see Girls by the
POLICIES TO PROMOTE CREATIVENESS IN YOUNGSTERS
by Moussa Gning
Vice-president of the Senegalese Association
for the Promotion of Inventions and Innovations (ASPI)
(Article published in IFIA-YOUTH Newsletter, No. 3, July-December 1996)
One of the objectives of the Senegalese Association for the Promotion of
Inventions and Innovations (ASPI) is to set up real policies to promote creativeness and
inventiveness in youngsters. Unlike adults, their main contribution to life is still to
come. A society, where youth is considered a peripheral element of minor importance in an
adult-centered world, creates a static situation detrimental to its future. The youth of
today is the driving force of tomorrow's development.
The necessity of encouraging invention and creativity in young people is
essential to the development of any country but it is not enough. Necessary
conditions for the encouragement of creative potentialities must be identified. Education
is a glorious means with the formidable mission of preparing today's youth for tomorrow's
But in our country, institutional education concerns only a minority of young
people who represent the overwhelming majority of the total population. Young people
without access to conventional educational institutions, or who have to leave prematurely,
should receive maximum encouragement for their inventive and creative capacities. It is
essential to identify those ways and means of promoting conditions favorable to the
development of potential inventive and creative talents.
1. Educational institutions
General education: The development of inventive and creative facilties
- from nursery to secondary school - implies setting up means to encourage youngsters to
seek renewal and progress through: a liberating environment, student reponsibility, and
the spirit of initiative. Subjects considered of minor importance (i.e., drawing,
modelling, cutting & pasting), but which frequently represent the only opportunities
offered to young people to communicate their dreams, should be re-evaluated.
Vocational schools: Future generations should be prepared for
technological evolution, and learn to overcome psychological resistance to change in any
given sector. This can be achieved through: developing a sense of reponsibility;
strengthening the spirit of initiative; encouraging a critical attitude in order to
favorize the search for original solutions to everyday problems; organizing competitive
examinations for best young creators, both within and between different educational
institutions; proclaiming, with maximum media coverage, exam results at special
2. The "unconventional" sector.
In this sector, preoccupations are aimed more toward the learning of a trade, but include
also training for the supervision of youngsters. Here more than anywhere else, the search
for conditions to promote creativeness and inventiveness should consitute the principle
line of thinking of those in charge. Orientation should stress the development of
intitative, responsibility, and the search for originality.
Young inventors are not precocious or pretentious persons to be ignored and
marginalized, but rather youngsters full of curiosity, eager for knowledge, whose actions
deserve to be encouraged. These boys and girls are not dangerous disturbers of the
established order, but harbingers of a better world.
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