Last week, a student waited for me after the class just to ask one thing ‘Do I have a unique mind?’ The question was spontaneous, which made me pause for a moment before replying to her question. I gently asked, ‘Dear, what made you ask this question?’ She replied, ‘Sir, I think I am a good student,” she explains thoughtfully, rolling her eyes, ‘but do I have the kind of mind where I can come up with a new and unique thought? Maybe I’m intended to be one of those people who spend their lives listening to what other creative people say.’ I smiled and replied, ‘Not need to worry, dear. Everybody feels that way. Even I sometimes feel that my thoughts are the copied ones, and that is okay. It doesn’t mean that I have a lesser value than any other human being on this earth.’ She smiled back convincingly, and after a bit of talk, we left our Zoom meeting. But this conversation left me with a question, does originality really matter when valuing ourselves or others?
American Psychologist, Adam Grant, discuss in his book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World that “originals”: thinkers are the ones who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. He believes that “The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most, and therefore you need a lot of bad ideas to get a few good ones.” But does it mean that to be ‘Original’, you’re now hiring a ‘Life Coach’ who will teach you ‘Creativity’? You can’t teach someone creativity or be unique. No one can sit down and say, ‘Okay, I’ll be visionary, innovative, and original from now onwards. Although anyone can sit down and say, ‘Now I’ll do something unusual and daring.’ Can these people coin themselves as originals?
Gina Barreca, PhD, an author and BOT at UConn, believes that originality turns out to be essential in all fields, not only ones regarded as artistic. What we need to do is recognize and cultivate, not seize, and subjugate creativity. We can’t capture it. But we can admire it and feed it. Therefore, the role of teachers and parents become more important to encourage the kids to think original by taking risks and embrace their curiosity. In one of the TED videos, Grant talks about parents should create spaces and cultures of originality to breed new ideas in their kids. One of the biggest mistakes that many parents make is they spend all their time enforcing rules, and they are guilty of this. But the sad thing about rules is that they don’t teach kids to think for themselves. Kids will eventually try to figure out how they can avoid taking risks altogether or take risks to avoid punishment.
What can be done for the kids to think Original?
Grants believe that if parents follow these practices, they can lead adolescents to think out of the box.
- Let your kids procrastinate. Let them decide when to think and when to procrastinate.
- Let them feel fear, only then they can face the realities and change them later.
- Let them experience their bad ideas. Let them try and learn from them.
- Let them speak of their mind first before feeding your own thoughts in their minds.
- Let them do their own chores, and it doesn’t mean you offer them rewards in return. Tell them that’s how humans connect with their core values. Now figure out what core value you connect by doing your own chores by yourself.
- Let them know the ‘Bigger Picture’ of completing any work. The big picture of doing your own chores is not having a neat and clean house. Instead, the big picture is how to respect people and non-living things because they belong to us.
It is a great way to nurture original thinking in kids by taking responsibility for their own actions. Being original or having original thought is not that something cannot be seen or experienced before. It simply means that this has actually been seen before but was never imagined in that outfit.