Creative Work is a term we coined to better describe what we do here at the shop. As a former Visual Arts teacher, I come from a background in fine art. I was tasked with teaching kids how to replicate artwork, mix colors, and make lines. That’s wonderful; however, after ten years in the classroom, I realized that creativity for kids is so much more than painting and drawing. Whenever I taught a sculpture project or we did a craft that gave them a tangible object, the engagement went through the roof. Creative Work happens when kids are free to make connections and make things with their hands. Creative Work happens when kids find purpose in their work. Having meaning in our work and activities leads to intrinsic motivation. Purpose for kids, is not always the same as purpose for adults.
Most people, especially young people, are motivated by purpose, not obligation. This isn’t a negative quality. Does it sometimes mean they don’t put much effort into math class? Yes. If something feels purposeful, will they engage, excel and grind? Heck yeah. I was the same and still am. So much of this is missing in traditional education models. If kids can’t find a why, there’s friction, disengagement, frustration, etc. Classrooms, homes, and the adults who manage them become wardens, forcing compliance rather than connection. As caregivers, we can remind ourselves that it is our job to help kids find meaning and purpose in their lives, find the things they care deeply about, and to find purpose in the daily act of being human.
What is Purposeful to Kids:
- Figuring out how something works
- Learning a useful skill (sewing a button, making an object of use, making a plaything)
- Novelty-Exploring the question...What else is possible?