When parents of Chavvi enrolled her into the creative writing program, they had a serious concern. The grade VIIIth student was academically doing great but there was a downward spiral in her expression. Her participation in every discussion was very limited. There was a clear inability to take a topic forward. It very much reflected in her essays in school and interaction with the teachers.
The child turned out to be diametrically different when she began to participate in the program. In the observation round, she called the bulbs ‘naked’. By the second week, she had fleshed out an article titled ‘Homework is an inorganic form of learning’. It was a revelation, to herself and her parents, when she answered the question ‘Who am I?’ in free verse.
Here’s an excerpt-
Who am I?
Probably a white dove
who is free
free to fly,
up in the beautiful, endless sky.
which has its own tune
nothing in it is right and nothing is wrong
It’s beautiful in its own true self.
No particular thing defines me
Because I am all that I love.
Chavvi’s story reminds me of what a famous artist once said ‘All are born creative but not all stay creative’. I would add a dimension to it. All are born creative, but not all continue to believe in their creativity!
The education system very systematically makes the parents and children believe that only a few children can write creatively.
In a school system, children look upon for validation of the teachers who themselves have long forgotten their own creative side. Even in the five mark essay, the focus remains on the spellings, sentence structure, grammar rather than the thought behind it. Then, of course, there is hardly any margin to fail. The fear to lose marks makes you play safe and fall into the assembly line. Thereby, killing the zeal to dive deep into the emotional well to fetch fresh ideas and thoughts. With marks being the only form of appreciation, the child discards creativity as an unwanted, unproductive thing in life.
Creativity certainly cannot thrive in an environment of self-doubt and cannot blossom without taking a risk.
As educators and parents, we fail to see that the curriculum and the teachers are a glass ceiling. For the flight of creativity to take off on the runway of life, we need an open sky. Within the square walls of square classrooms, creativity gets tired of knocking at the walls and finding space to spread its wings. Over a period of time, it stops trying and hides in a corner. Given a chance, it will crawl out and lift itself to fly again. But as years roll by, it takes greater effort. The self-belief has been eroded. There is a history of past failures. There are too many wrongs and rights to take care of.
That’s when a positive experience where a child can see evidence of his/her own creativity can turn self-doubt into deep faith. That’s what happened with Chavvi.
Creative writing, therefore, is not a prerogative of a few, though only few may become writers due to will, ambition, and practice. It is a facility available to all and each one of us must exercise. For every child deserves and desires to be self-expressed.
Sailing Leaf provides an ecosystem where children can explore and express their creativity.
Unearth Creative Writing for 11-14 year kids begins on 22nd April.
Songs ‘n’ Stories for 8-10 year kids starts on 4th June
Visit the home of Sailing Leaf
Be part of their family.
This article has been contributed by Manmeet Narang