Why are Children more creative than Adults?


In a couple of my blog posts, I had described some of the innovative ideas presented by children. We seem to know instinctively that children are more creative than adults! I am sure you have come across phrases like ‘child-like imagination’, ‘think like a child’ when it comes to creative thinking! Pablo Picasso, the
most important figure in art and art movement said,

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

So why are children more creative than adults?

marshmallow challenge children are more creative than adults
Source: https://wdsci.com/marshmallow-challenge-2

There is a famous and exciting case study which I first read in the book ‘How to fly a horse‘ and is still used in many workshops as a fun design exercise. The goal of the challenge is simple; in eighteen minutes, teams of four must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string. The structure should be able to hold the marshmallow when it is placed on the top.

Tom Wujec, in his TED talk on the marshmallow challenge shares data which suggests that the average team builds a tower with a height of about 20 inches. Business school students tend to perform significantly the average while kindergartners beat the average!. Watch the full video below.

Analyzing the performance of kindergartners and business students, the kids started talking and building the tower almost immediately. So their first prototype was up in a jiffy. They figured it wouldn’t stand the weight when they placed the marshmallow at the top. So they continued with the iterative process. Meanwhile, the B-school students first got into a discussion about who is going to lead, then plan the process of building the structure by calculating the approximate height required for the structure to hold the weight. The execution began very late which left them no time to reiterate when they learnt the tower wouldn’t hold the weight of the marshmallow!

Now, why do we see such a big difference? Kindergartners have just started school while the business school students have already spent a considerable number of years in school! My friend had a written a blog, ‘Who taught grammar for my four years old,’ where he describes the importance of learning and doing! The schools focus more on learning the facts than spending time on doing things!

Adults, when they come up with an idea, a lot of questions, go through their mind…Is it feasible?
What if I fail?… Children have the benefit of not knowing what is not feasible. They have no/less experience in failures. Their lack of distrust ensures better collaboration in building the structure. Hence, they are more creative and free thinking than adults and collaborate well in problem-solving scenarios. ‘The do something’ principle comes naturally to them making them more creative! So the next time you have a problem to solve, let go off some of your inhibitions which make you more open minded and help in finding more creative possibilities!

“To stimulate creativity, one must develop the childlike inclination for play.” - Albert Einstein

About Nisha Gopalakrishnan 15 Articles
A software professional, blogger and an enthusiast of latest technology news and startup ideas.