As children play we see the effortlessness of their imagination and the natural flow of their creativity. We see their state of mind transform as they make-believe, role-play and turn everyday items into the most wonderous objects.
Through the act of playing, children are using their conceptual skills - they are connecting what they have learned through their education and their experiences, then enhancing it with imagination. This is creative intelligence. All children have creative intelligence. It does not make them talented or exceptional.
However, creative intelligence enables concepts to be brought together in new ways, generating original ideas. When we nurture and strengthen creative intelligence in children, we are giving them a chance to grow up to be creative contributors: the people with new ideas to make things better.
Creative intelligence is developed through play where the outcomes are open-ended so children develop their own ideas, such as in drawing and construction. Visualise children that have ample opportunities to be playful and imaginative – they are building confidence in trying new ideas, testing limits and self-expression. People who are confident in these creative abilities have the capacity for original thinking as well as the self-belief to convey their ideas.
Education and industry are placing greater emphasis on creative intelligence; universities in Australia now offer degrees in it. No longer just the realm of designers, creative intelligence is being re-taught to researchers, project managers and professionals from an array of sectors in the pursuit of innovation and improvement. They are learning how to "find and connect discrete concepts, formulating theoretical ideas and hypothesising the outcomes" ... in other words, they are learning to form ideas and try them out just as children do in open-ended play.
Can adults be as creative as children? Perhaps - creativity is a skill that can be learned and practiced. We can take expensive courses and long degrees to regain our creative intelligence. But imagine if we never lost the creative abilities of childhood?
We can assist the children around us to develop their creative intelligence and build confidence in their ideas and imaginations by providing plenty of opportunities for open-ended play. Give children the equipment to create, the spaces to explore, the bricks to build, the curiosity to discover how things work.
As children progress from childhood to adulthood, those with strong creative intelligence they will take their abilities to play and imagine into their education and careers, challenging existing ways of doing things with their creative intelligence.
But for those who have already reached adulthood, it is not too late to grow your creative intelligence. So be curious, be imaginative, try new things. Be confident that with practice you can be as creative as a child playing.