| MATTHEW BRODERICK, EILEEN FISHER AND OTHER CREATIVE FORCES CALL FOR RETURN TO HANDS-ON, CREATIVE PLAY
Citing "creativity crisis," education and parenting experts recommend more unstructured play time for today's over-scheduled, multi-tasking kids
For Actor Matthew Broderick, "it happens when you're thinking about something else...you just have to have openness." Clothing Entrepreneur Eileen Fisher says it's "about giving people permission to step out of the busy-ness." "It" is creativity, a quality that, in Broderick's and Fisher's view, is at serious risk among today's over-scheduled, academically-pressured, multi-tasking generation of kids.
Broderick and Fisher recently joined leaders in child development on a panel hosted by the LEGO Group to discuss the societal implications of a creatively stagnant generation, and to propose ways to take back the playroom for imaginative play.
The panel, comprised of creative-minded leaders from a range of backgrounds and professions, was a cornerstone of the new LEGO® Builders of Tomorrow campaign to inspire creative, unstructured play time.
Playing for Keeps, a non-profit organization focused on the relationship between play and development, found that unstructured playtime has diminished by 25 percent in recent years. Mitch Resnick, Director of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, said that early on kids "learn to be creative thinkers...but as you get beyond kindergarten, a lot of it tends to go away."
Heather Reider, who together with Mary Goulet co-founded the online community at MomsTown.com, called for more unstructured playtime for kids, "Not only for raising
creative problem solvers, but for raising healthy kids." Their advice is to keep it simple. For example, get down on the floor with kids and become part of their world. Let kids get messy to let their imagination run free. "Designate a messy zone," they say.
Meri Cummings, a curriculum designer at the NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future, advocated engaging students at all levels in team-structured creative problem solving situations. Rather than dictating to kids how to go about it, she says, "Let the kids come up with the procedure. That's part of being a problem solver and creative thinker."
A podcast and transcript of panelists' remarks are available at www.legobuildersoftomorrow.com . The site offers practical tips to foster unstructured, creative play - drawing, building, storytelling and more - and includes inspirational stories about entrepreneurs, teachers, parents and children who are "builders of tomorrow."
A complete transcript of the panel discussion in Microsoft Word format.