Through the Lives of Others… Inspiring Children’s Creativity and Productivity

Through the Lives of Others… Inspiring Children’s Creativity and Productivity

Through the Lives of Others… Inspiring Children’s Creativity and Productivity

Brief descriptions about three eminent individuals show how the experiences and words of others can motivate kids to embrace challenges and creative possibilities.

      Stories and quotes can inspire creativity, exemplify determination, and fortify will. This can point the way toward a greater sense of industry. 
      Stories can be conveyed in many different ways. Fiction or nonfiction; short tales or long narratives; the familiar or the unfamiliar; celebrated accomplishments or unassuming ones; rhymes or prose; current events or historical accounts. Words and images have the power to move us. They always have.
      To that end, here are glimpses into the lives of three very creative individuals from years gone by, thereby bridging past and present, and introducing new perspectives as well. Parents and children can learn from the words and the lived experiences of other people—from various times, and from different walks of life—and discover what incentives bolstered resolve, augmented productivity, and sparked creativity. 

Brief Description #1

"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
                                                                          ~ Mark Twain

November 30, 1835–April 21, 1910. (Author and humorist)

      Mark Twain did just this in his own life. He wrote profusely, but he also experienced and overcame severe financial problems. And if you think about the protagonists in his books The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, you’ll remember very enterprising young boys who had many escapades. Determination gave them the edge to tackle challenges and to succeed. Twain was much the same. He kept writing and writing, and made an indelible “mark” in the literary world.

      Twain’s Incentive was perseverance, combined with finding what he really liked to do (communicate and write), honing his skills over time, and using different outlets—newspapers, books and public speaking—to convey his creative ideas.  

Brief Description #2

 “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
                                                                             ~ Benjamin Franklin
Jan. 17, 1706–April 17, 1790. (Entrepreneur, scientist, inventor, and politician)

      Benjamin Franklin is famous for his kite experiment wherein he literally got a handle on lightning and verified the nature of electricity. He also invented swim fins, bifocals, and the Franklin stove. He was one of five committee members who drafted the United States Declaration of Independence, and one of forty who signed the American Constitution. He sought to abolish slavery, and, he was a strong environmental advocate, which was somewhat of a rarity back in his day. With so many interests and involvements, this forward-thinking man clearly had no time to waste. Another quote attributed to him is, “Lost time is never found again.” 

      Franklin’s incentive was curiosity, combined with a strong sense of purpose to pursue goals, find solutions, create things, and make discoveries.

Brief Description #3

 “Forever is composed of nows.”
                                                                            ~ Emily Dickinson
     December 10, 1830–May 15, 1886. (Poet)

      Emily Dickinson was an accomplished American poet who wrote over 1700 poems. She was very shy, and rarely went out in public. Some people think that being a recluse allowed her more time to focus on her writing and on her thoughts and feelings. Very few of her poems were published during her lifetime, but later, once the full breadth of her work was discovered and published, her powerful, creative, and unique poetry captured the imaginations of readers worldwide. She never saw her words celebrated, or the impact her stark imagery had upon so many others. Her four simple words, “I dwell in possibility,” reflect her belief that there are always steps one can take, always an innovative path one can choose to follow.

      Dickinson’s incentive was simplicity, combined with a desire to express herself.

Now What? How to Augment the Learning

      There are many ways people navigate life’s challenges, and ultimately triumph. This often entails using strengths and imagination. Children can learn a great deal from thinking about stories about other people. How? By drawing connections with their own lives, by formulating questions, and by thinking creatively. As a result, kids will develop a greater appreciation for others, and feel connected with experiences that extend beyond themselves. 
      Of course, children will appreciate stories more enthusiastically when open to engaging with them, so it’s best to share the material and encourage their engagement at a time and place when they’re ready and interested. And, although the three descriptions here have been plucked from historical chronicles, there are countless modern-day success stories just waiting to inspire children. Real life champions, role models, and inspirational heroes vary, and potential influencers can be found in many different domains extending beyond those represented by Twain, Franklin, and Dickinson. Help kids explore resources, and find what might resonate authentically for them.
      When looking to spark creative expression, parents and children can think about the value of quotes or stories that they already know, as well as those they’re hearing about for the very first time—reflecting upon them, talking about the messages they convey, and sharing ideas with one another. They can consider, too, song lyrics, movies, interviews, television shows, videos, autobiographies, and blogs. All this, and more relating to people’s lives, resilience and accomplishments, can generate animated discussion, and provide a springboard for stimulating creativity, thoughts, and ambition. 

Additional Resources

Material in this article has been adapted from pages 160 – 163 of Not Now, Maybe Later: Helping Children Overcome Procrastination (by Joanne Foster), published by Great Potential Press.

For information on related topics, visit and see Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids (click here) as well as Being Smart about Gifted Education (click here). Both these books are co-authored by Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster. 

For additional articles about children and creativity (for example, how creativity can help kids overcome challenge; what productivity and creativity have in common; tips about sharing family life stories; and ways to support children’s intelligence and creativity), check out the column “Fostering Kids’ Success” at The Creativity Post

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