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How might we build creative confidence (in young people?)
Lacking confidence is an everyday issue that we all face, whether it’s a small task that slightly pangs us with humiliation or a performance in front of a large crowd that makes our stomachs twists up in knots, we sometimes lack confidence—it’s a human obstacle—and that’s okay. This human obstacle, whether socially constructed or embedded into our animal instincts of humility, exists to serve a purpose; but it’s also an obstacle with many solutions. The insecurity that comes with lacking self-confidence, fabricates somewhere between wanting to encourage others for being good at doing something and envying them for doing it better than yourself. This measure of skillset is all about personal perception as well—everyone measures creativity differently.
This is the very problem that sparks self-confidence issues, comparing your skills to those of another’s. As much as you can test basic math skillset and who is faster at configuring the infinite digits of pi, comparing craft and creativity is not the same (not to say that mathematicians aren’t creative beings, because they are necessary to many forms of creativity). It would be difficult to compare a pop vocalist’s ability to an opera singer’s, just as it would be unjust to compare a contemporary artist to a baroque painter and uphold one as more creative than another—the techniques and styles are inherently different. Therefore, the only challenger in the game of creativity for young children SHOULD be self-improvement. YOU are your own challenge and no one else’s; in fact other’s successes should drive you as much as they inhibit you. Other’s success should never drive you, though one can and should draw inspiration from others—this is the basis of art and creativity itself—building new out of old, creating and recreating.
If we can convince the youth to think of creativity as something to be fostered internalized and exercised externally, we can also teach them that creativity is specific to each individual and not on a playing field with everyone else’s creativity. We should teach them to encourage one another but also to be inspired from one another—does this mean that we cannot praise one’s work without critiquing another’s in front of one another? NO. This simply means that we need to critique in a manner that isn’t discouraging but advice driven—critique with an assessment of what can be done to advance the project to another playing field, always keeping in mind that the playing field is in no way affiliated to another persons’ work. If as assessment and advice-driven critique is assembled in a way that says YOU ARE ONLY COMPETING WITH YOURSELF, most kids will always feel more accomplished and always feel that they are hitting a benchmark with each little advance they make in their work.
Overall, being brought up in a positive environment that teaches you “YES YOU CAN” as opposed to “YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN PERSON XYZ” it will allow children to gain self-respect and self-confidence that is not dependent on other’s perspectives of how they view their work. In addition, it will teach them to respect another’s work without drawing assessment to their own pieces—objectiveness is key in holding your own and possessing a healthy dose of self-confidence.