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The different perception of intelligence in children

There's a lot to say about choosing a career path. We at CreaTee interact with children in our daily business. Amazingly just by talking to them we learn so much about them and at the same time about ourselves as well. For me personally, my decision to be a graphic designer was not a difficult one. I am no different from  any other child spending my days drawing, coloring and doodling. What’s different was that my parents took time to notice my interest in art and nurtured it. One day he took me to work and left me at the art department to spend time with art director and illustrators. 

By the end of the day he picked me up and asked if I enjoyed it and if I wanted to pursue this as a career. At 9 years old I choose my path with the guidance of my father. Was I a great at drawing at that age? I was better than average in comparison to other kids but by no means I was any sort of prodigy. What I did was set a goal for myself and stuck with it. I might not have understood what being creative was all about then, but the starting point of it all was my love towards art.  

Parents play an important role in any childs’ development. Adults  lack is the capacity to listen to children. We need to observe them and pick up on their behavior. This whole thing is related to a 10 year boy that my sister and  I met over the weekend; how parents expectations can make or break a child’s career path. Children are entertaining lots. You just never know what kind of personality you will cross path with. Some kids are not really talkers, some avoid all means of eye contact and busy concentrating playing with games on their phones. That weekend we  met an intriguing young man. While we were busy cooking, he was helping setting up the table. We were just having some bbq but yet he placed everything nicely and even platted the fork and spoon. Like any other gathering, while you are chewing all that bbq meat conversations takes place. We were told by his mom that this young man was not performing well in school.  She seems to think that he does not take school seriously. I mean that is a pretty fair assessment right? Most 10 year old really would rather be playing. He is practically flunking most of his subjects. According to his mom, all he wants to do is do art all day long. I was a rather good student in school so I don’t have the concept of failing academically. I enjoyed both arts and studying but I also know that not all students are equal. Even as humans we all have our strength and weakness. 

He then proceeded to show me his sketches in a special school notebook. The pages were filled with his sketches and these were wonderful artwork. I could not believe how talented he is.  I don’t give compliments easily; even to children. I tend to mean what I say and I was going through his work. I understood now that perhaps this is his path. Not all 10 year old is this talented and I wanted his mom to realize this. I think people say things like “Oh, he is good in art”. There is a different if a child is good in art and has a passion for it. Wanting to finish his homework early (to the point of being careless) because all that he wants to do is art is passion. Maybe some would say how about video games, if a child wants to do it all day long isn’t that passion? Yes, it is a passion to just play. But art is different. It is the ability to produce something and to make people feel something with that visual that is being created. Playing video games all day long means you hone your skills to get to another game level;  not necessarily mean you are developing your creativity.

What struck me that evening was how we adults, tend to react to this particular situation. We hold academic achievement as the barometer of success and focus on the  fact that a talented boy is failing his academic classes. I am not saying that a child should throw in the towel and leave school at 10 years old. I told him how math is still important no matter how much one loves art. As a designer I still needed to know my percentages, plus and minus in designing something. I needed to know how to bill my clients after a project is done. What’s  important is his parents acknowledging that this boy is different and perhaps traditional way of education is not for him, instead search for other alternatives for him to find achievement and his voice. Enrol him in painting or animation class. Art museum trips instead of malls.

Acknowledging without acceptance has no value. We don’t come from a culture where art is ever a first choice. The measure of success is seen as  in grades in school and academics. It is difficult for parents to accept that when the child is not placed top in class. Being last is equated as being stupid but we should remember that intelligence comes in many forms. Being articulate, kind and helpful means he has developed his emotional intelligence better than other 10 year olds. That too needs to be celebrated. 

All children need to be celebrated. Intelligence, smarts do come in different forms. It is about time we acknowledge this, so celebrate your children no matter what. Help them find their voice, passion and in the end they will find success and  happiness. 

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