So we’ve arrived at the highest level of thinking and learning–creativity. That’s the capstone. The goal of our teaching.

At this level our children will be able to do so much more than read and regurgitate, parroting whatever ideas they are fed by others. Their unique gifts and talents will be able to fully flower into ideas that have value.

Creative thinking is the goal of teaching and the capstone of learning. Click To Tweet

At this level students are able to pull ideas from their knowledge base, combining and recombining them to construct new forms and ideas and create new possibilities.

When you want to challenge your children to think creatively, you’ll find these words creeping into the conversations you have with them:

  • Create
  • Combine
  • Compare
  • Construct
  • Design
  • Develop
  • Devise
  • Generate
  • Hypothesize
  • Imagine
  • Invent
  • Modify
  • Originate
  • Organize
  • Plan
  • Produce
  • Rearrange
  • Reconstruct
  • Reorganize
  • Revise
  • Rewrite
  • Summarize
  • Synthesize
  • Write

Some people have a tendency to think of creativity as art or craft projects, but creative thinking is far more than that.

Some people may think that creativity is a fine exercise for small children or as an elective, but believe that as we progress we should “get down to business.” Indeed, creativity IS business (as we will see in next week’s blog posts). For now, suffice to say that if we have no creative ideas of our own, we consign ourselves to carrying out the creative ideas of others for whatever they are willing to pay us.

It’s true that very small children imagine and create almost without prompting, but it’s also true that they must be encouraged to continue that practice if they are to retain and master the habit. In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell theorizes that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to acquire mastery of a skill. (If you are interested in higher-level thinking, you might enjoy reading Outliers. The book provides several insights into what makes people succeed.)

We can begin to encourage creation, imagination, and early attempts at production when our children are young. We can help them discover where their gifts and interests lie, and we can indulge talents that might not be addressed in a typical school’s program. Of the many realms of natural talent, most schools focus almost exclusively on developing language and mathematical skills, with a hat tip to athletics and the fine arts. What if your child’s gifts have more to do with the natural sciences or with leadership? Homeschooling allows students more than an average amount of flexibility to explore and practice their passions, wherever they lie.