Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Teen 2.0 (Chapter 10)

While I've been on a Teen 2.0 hiatus, I'll get back to blogging weekly through the reminding chapters of the book.

This is one of the only chapters in Teen 2.0 where I agreed with all of Robert Epstein's theories about the competencies of teens. His assertion: young people are creative. He believes that "creative potential is universal" and that "we are generative organisms, from birth to death."

To which I give a resounding, "yes!"

So why aren't we all creative types? Why aren't we all painters or musicians or dancers? Epstein asserts--and I tend to agree--that civilization and socialization is the culprit. "To make people civil, we need them to learn to conform to a wide variety of rules and practices, a process social scientists call 'socialization.' The process starts at birth and kicks into high gear when we start school."

Epstein gives a huge list of famous or well-known young people with creative talent, from musicians to artists to filmmakers to inventors to writers to dancers, and everything in between. Young people not only have the potential to be creative, but the teen years seem to be a perfect storm of having enough skill and experience to hone one's creative gifts while not fully succumbing to socialization; there's plenty of rebellion and competency for teens to have incredible creativity. Epstein also points out young people who have started up non-profits in order to change the world. Their creative idealism is perfect for these ambitious projects. He asks a great question about the potential of teens' creativity:
When it comes to the creativity of young people, I find myself asking: How much and what types of creativity would they express if they had more control over their lives? If they could own the fruits of their labor? If they were encouraged to express their creativity? If their lives were less regimented? (pg 260)
I wonder the same thing. I wonder if the church could become a culture of creativity, a community where young people could take creative risks, a place where idealism is embraced instead of repressed, where coloring outside of the lines might be okay. Sadly, the church of late-modernity is often not the place our culture looks for creative endeavors. While there are exceptions to the rule, "creativity" and "Christianity" tragically aren't the norm.

Maybe creativity is on my mind recently, having recently read Gordon MacKenzie's Orbiting the Giant Hairball and Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind. (Both are phenomenal books. Pink is more instructional while MacKenzie is more inspirational). I'm wondering about my own creative journey; I used to love to draw and paint, and I still love to play music on the drums. Yet it seems like these activities get swallowed up in my busy schedule of being a husband, father, pastor, and student. I've wondered what personal potential I'm missing in my life. So I'm trying to build a regular habit of playing drums more often and doodling in my journal. Both have been deeply refreshing to my spirit. Maybe we all need to have some planned creativity in our schedules.

What are some ways you've seen teens express their creativity? How can you begin to foster creativity in a teen in your life?

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