According to this article by Sam McNerney our natural ability to daydream and wonder drops precipitously for most of us around the fourth grade. Those who maintain their creative capacities throughout their lifetime, however, are those who can suspend reason and tap into their childlike selves.
What happens to our innate creativity when we age? The Zabelina and Robinson discuss a few reasons. The first is that regions of the frontal cortex – a part of the brain responsible for rule-based behavior – are not fully developed until our teenage years. This means that when we are young our thoughts are free-flowing and without inhibitions; curiosity, not logic and reason, guides our intellectual musings. The second is that current educational practices discourage creativity. As famed Ted speaker Ken Robinson said: “the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance. And the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized.”
No matter the reasons, the authors stress, adults can still tap into their more imaginative younger selves. The useful cognitive tools that come with adulthood tempt us to inhibit our imagination from wondering about the impossible, but as so many intellectuals and inventors have remarked throughout history, challenging what’s possible is a necessary starting point. As Jobs said, “the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
For the full article, see “Creativity and Childhood.”