Head of School Judy Guild on Raising Creative and Ethical Children

“Creativity may be hard to nurture, but it’s easy to thwart,” writes Adam Grant in his article “How to Raise a Creative Child, Step One: Back Off.” This New York Times article caught my attention, and it caused me to reflect on the subject of creativity and childhood. Grant points out several interesting and somewhat controversial ideas about how we can develop creative children. He focuses on research that indicates parents who “place emphasis on moral values, rather than on specific rules” seem to produce better results regarding creativity in their children. By limiting discrete rules, he goes on to say, children are encouraged to think for themselves. Psychologist Teresa Amabile also reports that when raising children who go on to become creative adults, “Emphasis was placed on the development of one’s own ethical code.” While the article focuses on other ways we can help our children to be creative, I found this idea of having an internal moral code and its link to one’s creativity to be an interesting one, especially because of the focus of last week’s PIN (Parents of Independent Schools) conference at Brimmer.

Last Friday I had the opportunity to present at the PIN conference on the subject of educating responsible, ethical students who develop into people of good character. I outlined Brimmer’s PreK-12 programmatic efforts to help students become ethical citizens and leaders in our global society. The room was beyond capacity, clearly indicating that parents are striving to raise good people. Helping our children develop an internal code of ethics has many benefits for our children as well as for our world.