The Best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see –Alexandra K. Trenfor
We all go through the motions of life mostly on autopilot ,oblivious to our surroundings and to a large extent ourselves too. With smart screens dominating every aspect of our lives, we rarely have time to even look at our reflection in the mirror! It is only when we occasionally lift up our heads and look around that we realize what we are missing. We fail to understand the immense power of observation. Wait a minute! What has observation got to do with creativity? Creativity is all about creating something new right? Well , not quite!
“Have you noticed how nobody ever looks up? Nobody looks at chimneys, or trees against the sky, or the tops of buildings. Everybody just looks down at the pavement or their shoes. The whole world could pass them by and most people wouldn’t notice.”
― Julie Andrews Edwards.
It so happens that observational skills are a powerful propellant of creativity. At the very basic level, it is observation ,that mostly leads to inspiration and later creation. But there’s more to it than just that. Research shows that if we keep observing something for a long time, our mind gets bored of it and starts to look for alternate ways to perceive it by breaking it into smaller parts and looking for the interesting parts. Initially you are only aware of the sense of boredom but later these interesting bits surface into your consciousness thereby leading to exciting creations! A healthy habit of observation also helps us notice patterns and can thereby lead to creative associations and problem solving.
“We try so hard to instruct our children in all the right things―teaching good from bad, explaining choices and consequences―when in reality most lessons are learned through observation and experience. Perhaps we’d be better off training our youth to be highly observant.” – Richelle E. Goodrich
Developing observational skills in our children not only increases their focus and attention span but also helps them perceive and comprehend things in new and creative ways .The more data you feed your brain with, the more creative solutions it comes up with! There are lots of fun ways and exercises to encourage observational skills in children. Here are 5 ways to get started.
- Spot the differences – As a child this was my favorite activity from Children’s magazines ! you basically have two almost identical pictures and have to spot the differences between the two. Here is a cool link which has lots of ‘spot the differences’ games.http://www.spotthedifference.com/
- Maintaining an observational journal – This is as simple as having a small sketchpad with you where your can draw and write your observations of people you see, animals, nature etc…. A quite time at the park observing and noting down everything you see might be a fun exercise!
- Observational challenge – Challenge yourself or your children to look for something new in familiar places . For example look for 2 new things in your room. Something you have never noticed before. It could be a crack in the wall or a tiny rubber ball under the desk. Or look for something new in your car or classroom or your favorite park. A scavenger hunt is always a winner with kids!
- Finding hidden faces in pictures and other brain teasers that require observational skills. Here is a great place to find exactly what I’m talking about. http://www.funwithpuzzles.com/2012/06/hidden-faces-puzzle.html. and picture-puzzles
- Finally use your other senses to observe . Observation doesn’t start and end with your eyes alone! Taking in the smells, feeling textures and listening carefully to sounds are all ways of observing.
A little more to read up here.
Creativity is essentially interacting with the world around in a deeply inspired manner and observation is where it all starts! So let’s not sleepwalk through life . Lets wake up, lift our heads and pay attention to the world around us with all our senses and encourage our children to do the same. As always , I would love to hear your valuable thoughts and experiences in the comments below!
Image courtesy : Pixabay