Monday, 16 April 2012

Talent and Creativity is it a Myth?

I actually had this exact discussion with my girlfriend yesterday, she thoroughly believes that people are born talented and I believe the exact opposite. That people develop all skills from birth in a complex series of events and conditions. By developing in a nurturing environment more time is spent learning task and as such this repetition means you learn faster and develop these skills faster. This makes certain individuals seem like they are inherently more talented when in fact they are just ahead with their learning. They have been brought up learning these things from a younger age and been encouraged to continue to learn them. I read somewhere that it takes around 10,000 hours to become truly great at something that is the number of hours practicing before you can consider yourself truly better than the majority. People seem like they are good at creative things because it is likely that they enjoyed doing them when they were a child.

 Creativity is a lot of the time taken away from children as they get older, because their parents want them to focus on other things that they consider more important. By nurturing a Childs interests, encouraging and pushing them to continue to develop their skills they are going to put in more hours of practice and get better. Take the example that most people have a proficient level of literacy by the time they have finished high school, this is usually the level that it stays at unless they purposely practice literacy task in their own time. Some people seem more educated and “smart” because they have realised that it is important to constantly learn and pushed themselves and as such have excelled from the mark that the majority stops at.

Mozart is often seemed as an example of pure innate talent; this is not because he was born with the ability to compose music and play. Babies do not, however you look at it, come from the womb playing scores of music or painting a master piece. They develop their hand eye coordination from a young age and are push to practice. Mozart was born to a father that taught and composed music for a living. He had been practicing for the majority of his life and as such made Mozart practice for a very early age, obsessed with seeing his son succeed. People look at his early work and suggest great ability and talent; although good they were certainly not great symphonies and were likely edited and revised by his more experienced father. By the time he produced his famous work he was a young adult and had put in thousands upon thousands of hours of controlled practice.

It is important to realise that this myth of talent is in fact controlled practice and nurturing and a lot of the time pressure from a young age to succeed. Skilful parents often have so called talented children because they are brought up with their parent’s skills and develop these under a watchful and keen eye. With this in mind talent is a myth, people aren’t born with a keen ability to kick a ball or paint a picture just as much as people aren’t born with a grand understanding of quantum mechanics. They learn. People are responsible for their own abilities, whilst you might think you are not good at something it is because you haven’t practiced it enough. You do not learn something quickly. That is why children seem more extraordinary because they are learning and absorbing so much information at a young age. Whereas adult have more pressure on them to learn quickly and often have other commitments to work and family. Children have none or little of these constraints, as such have more free time and seem to have more raw talent.

When you understand that people limit themselves you can then try to do something about it, by eliminating peoples fear of talent people can then realise that by practicing something and allowing time for their skills to develop they can become just as good as other people. Things are daunting that you haven’t done before; you have to be in the right mindset to understand that once the first hurdle is jumped and the basics have been understood, practice is enjoyable and quick to develop. The only thing that limits your talent is time, people who learn and understand this early have more time to get better and become talented whereas older people will be limited to what they can learn because time is against them.

The same thing can be said about creativity, children have brilliant imaginations because they are learning so much so quickly that they have a wealth of information to harness. Adult would continue to harness this imagination but are nipped in the bud to focus on academics. I am not saying that academics are not important, but people should not be scared of crazy ideas. Creativity lingers on in those who have been allowed to imagine and create and learn and absorb. Inventions and all the great things that have ever been made and said have been from those who are creative. Who have the ability to make new decisions because they have practiced and haven’t been stifled. They have been encouraged to develop and learn from their ideas rather than disregard them. This focuses their attentions on real situations and makes this early imagination more applicable to the real world.

In terms of games, everyone is allowed to be creative and share ideas. They understand through practice what works and what doesn’t, they know what looks good and what doesn’t. Talent and creativity are measured by accuracy, idea generation and ability to convey these ideas clearly and precisely. These ideas are interchangeable and it all comes down to how you have been brought up to learn and practice.

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