Cultivating creativity in children

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  • Published 20140423
  • ISBN: 9781922182258
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

IN 1992, COLIN Duffy was profiled by Susan Orlean in Esquire magazine about his thoughts on wealth, consumer products, recycling and abortion, among other issues. Yet he was not a celebrity, or politician, or anyone famous. When ‘The American Male at Age 10’ came out, it was groundbreaking writing, a piece in a national publication about the likes and dislikes of an ordinary kid, written with the same focus of intensity and analysis as an interview with the President. Duffy liked Nintendo Game Boys, sour lollies called Crybabies, and building enormous spider webs in his backyard with fishing line. He had a wild imagination and dreamed of winning the lottery.

This profile might have seemed navel-gazing and indulgent, but the idea that a child should be taken as seriously as the adult he or she will become is not a new one in other cultures. Last year, Elizabeth Kolbert from the New Yorker reported on an anthropologist who spent several months with the Matsigenka tribe of the Peruvian Amazon. Carolina Izquierdo observed a girl, Yanira, who had asked to join another family on a five-day leaf gathering expedition down the Urubamba River. Although she had no clearly defined role in the group, Yanira found ways to make herself useful. She cleaned sleeping mats, helped stack the kapashi leaves; and fished, cleaned and boiled crustaceans which she served to the others. What was remarkable to both the anthropologist and the journalist was that Yanira was only six years old at the time. Izquierdo recalled that calm and self-possessed Yanira ‘asked for nothing’ during the trip. In contrast, Orlean reported Duffy’s opinions on everything ranging from the Eurythmics to AIDS.

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