Tag Archives: creativity

Less Instructions = More Creativity

After 2 weeks attending playschool, today my son Bintang made a scene. This isn’t the first time he did something weird  because couple of days ago, when the teacher told everyone in the classroom to sing “Bintang Kecil” my son refused and yelled “No! let’s sing Gundul-Gundul Pacul instead!” .. which made the whole class sing Gundul-Gundul Pacul first… and then Bintang Kecil.

Today, the whole class played outside the classroom and took a trip inside Carrefour for “practical life” lesson about grocery shopping, healthy food vs junk food, and payment issues. After the trip, all kids took part on “Doughnut Contest” where the fastest kid who can eat a doughnut, wins. Bintang, who already ate breakfast with a glass of milk, did nothing but stare at the doughnut. He was focused on something else instead. The “kereta kelinci” (small train) in front of Carrefour which is ready to take everyone for a ride around their playschool.

Up to the train ride, Bintang was “okay” as in enjoying the whole outdoor activities, although he refused to join his friends and teachers standing in front of the train for a photograph, and asked to take their pictures instead.

During all those activities, Bintang was excited and his nanny was there with him all the time. I wasn’t there until the train ride has finished.

And then.. the next schedule was one of the big moment: performing “Cublak-Cublak Suweng” dance, in Carrefour’s stage, in front of a bunch of people, where everybody paid their attention to the s-t-a-g-e.

Bintang totally refused to perform. And I got upset. So both mommy and son were emotionally exhausted, right in front of the school teachers, and other mommies as well. What an embarrassing scene it was!


According to the teacher, there were three reasons:

1) Because I was there, he choose to spend time with me, instead with his friends and teachers.

2) Because he got scared with the idea of “performing in front of a crowd

3) He never enjoyed following other people’s instructions.

For reason number 1 and 2, okay I will accept my son the way he is, and try to be more patience.

But for reason number 3, I got confused.

One of the great things about children is how much creativity they have. And we, as parents, were sometimes got blown away by the funny things they said, or by the unexplainable (but cute) things they did. And one reason behind all this amazing development is due to their free will. Their initiatives. Their imaginations run very wild because they are free to think about anything, and this is very important in any kids’ healthy development.

Now let’s talk about instructions. Structure. Obligations.

I don’t mean to refuse the idea of giving instructions to a 3 year old like Bintang, but I also couldn’t understand the point of it. I want my son to have the courage to walk towards the stage by himself, I really do, and I must work on this matter. But to have him dance in accordance to the teachers? It’s okay if he want to, or if he can imitate the moves of his friends or teachers, but I wouldn’t blame him if he choose to perform his own movements. I will be proud of him, a lot!

I know it will be awful to look at, a bunch of kids, dancing around with different moves one from another, but come on people, they’re only 3-4 years old! We should be focusing on their courage to perform in public, and enjoy their creative moves, instead of being frustrated by the fact that they don’t follow their teachers’ moves/instructions.

And that was the thing I realized after having my own emotional meltdown today. I simplify my duty to support Bintang to have more courage in public, to have fun on stage with friends.

I will give less instructions, and allowing him for more initiatives.

After all, that is the root of their self esteem and creativity.


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2nd Playschool Trial at Sanggar Kreativitas Bona

The successful student is one who learns how to use research materials, libraries, note cards and computer files, as well as knowledgeable of parents, teachers, older students and classmates, in order to master those tasks of schools which are not transparently clear. ~ Howard Gardner, on “The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach.”

Last Friday, I took my son Bintang for the second trial-class at Sanggar Kreativitas Bona (SKB). This time, all children age 2 to 4,5 year old were joined together in the same class. There were around 10 children and they were given free time to play anything they want, alone or together with others, for approximately 30 minutes. The class started at 09.30 AM, two assistants were present, so one of them can handle the more-active kids without interrupting other children.

After 30 minutes of free play time, the teacher then continued the day with dancing lesson using a very traditional Javanese song of “Cublak-Cublak Suweng” along with relevant hand and feet movements. Bintang loved this activity a lot, and practices the moves again at home. Now I’m thinking to buy music CDs with traditional songs because I no longer remember the words.

After jumping and singing, everyone washes their hands and eat the snacks they brought from home. Unlike the 1st trial a couple of days before, this time I’ve prepared Bintang with cheese bread and milk. After finishing their meals, children take turns to sing any song they want. Most of them sang “Bintang Kecil” or “Pelangi, pelangi” and we clapped our hands afterwards.

Then the class assistant took two hand-puppets (Bobby and Angel), and began telling a story about independence (that smart kids should enter the class by themselves instead of being accompanied by their caregivers). Again, my son loved this scene a lot, he even asked “Where is Bobby?” after the puppet show is finished.

At almost 11 AM, everyone clean the classroom, threw away snack covers to the trash-can and returned the toys to the boxes, sat together in circle, and began singing a song about gratitude. Everyone thank God (in a universal way, not just according to a certain religion) for having played, learned and ate, and now they want to go home safely.

Bintang enjoyed this class so much, but I’m still having second thoughts about it. I’m still planning to take another trial-classes at other playschool and see which one he likes the most.

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You are nobody until you create something.

Mark Zuckerberg was nobody until he created Facebook. Billie Joe Armstrong was just a confused teenager until he and his fellow mates of Green Day created those beautiful, inspiring songs that rock the world until today. Steven Spielberg and his sci-fi madness would never have succeeded for the last five decades if he didn’t create Close Encounters of the Third Kind on 1977. There will be no Avatar without The Terminator (or Titanic), and Stefani Germanotta will never make our jaw dropped due to her mind-blowing outfits, if she didn’t decide to create, well, who else.. Lady Gaga!

Kurt Cobain, grunge, and Nirvana, is like Einstein to the theory of relativity. Simon Cowell, talent shows, and American Idol is like Adolf Hitler and the Nazi era.

So, is it wrong for me to conclude that the ability to create has been implanted on our DNAs by The Great Creator since the day we were born?

And yet there seems to be something wrong with the way we were nurtured, raised, and taught, because often the fear of failure took over and dominates our mind. It stopped us from enjoying the process of creativity. We were raised to be the smartest kid in school, to have high grades, to graduate on time, to finally settle with a family and have a decent job. Passion is not an important thing to consider, that’s why innovators are treated as rare creatures which are extremely valuable, because they’re very hard to be found anywhere.

It’s every people’s right to choose a “safe” destiny, but will it make us ready for the upcoming 21st century? All the richest people in the world today are making money from being innovators, and here we are still underestimating the power to create. The reason, for most of the time, is fear of failure. In a culture where everyone is being achievement/end-result-oriented instead of process-oriented, it’s very hard for us to keep on going and ignore the negativity from other people mocking our “mediocre” result.

I was watching Invictus last night, and there’s a scene where Nelson Mandela gave an inspiring note to Francois Pienaar right before the South African rugby team is supposed to fight against the New Zealand “All Blacks.” He took a couple of lines from a poem by William Ernest Henly, about how a person should have full control over his own destiny.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul..

I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul. Don’t you just love that phrase so much? Or did you find it like a slap in the face for being such a chicken and surrender to your own fears? As the masters of our own fate, the decision to create victory or to listen to other people’s negativity, has and will always be upon our own hands. So create, create, and keep on creating. From small, personal inventions to major breakthrough.

Everything big is a result of what was once small, but were made by people who dare to think big.

Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Kurt Cobain, all of them started their little steps on this world by doing small projects at their own garage. It doesn’t matter whether you created popsicle, paper-towels, or even the fastest planes on the planet, you’ve create something. Nobody ever imagined that the internet (as one of the greatest invention in the world) would be an inevitable necessity for modern human beings, and I can’t imagine what this world would be like today without having the internet as part of our daily lives. No, I’m not addicted, but it sure has helped us a lot, right? You won’t even be reading this boring post by me if it wasn’t for the internet.

Create anything, a story, a song, a poetry, a blog. You can be the next Dewi Lestari, and you can be the next Oprah Winfrey. And since we are now in the mood to create something, why don’t you guys start by helping me think of the best title for this piece that you’re currently reading right now?

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Time To Change, Time To Be Selfish

Time To Change, Embrave Creativity & Innovation



Desi Anwar said on her blog, “nothing ever stays the same, sooner or later we all succumb to the inexorable force of change” and at this point, I want to be one of the lucky people who can embrace the changes and use them for my benefit. But first of all, I’m going to share a beautiful, mind-opening, phrase which I happened to read this morning:

“Unlucky people miss opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. While lucky people see what is there, rather than just what they are looking for.” read more here

It blew my mind away. How often did we pay attention to job advertisements in the newspaper and ignore the latest news about new business opportunities? Perhaps it’s true what Steve Jobs said, that innovation distinguishes leaders from followers. And innovation starts when we force ourselves to be somewhat “unique” not just in our physical appearance, but in everything we think, say, and do.

I have to be honest, the effort of being unique is full of trials though. For the last couple of days, I was complaining about my twitter timeline and why everyone was making a big deal out of unimportant news. I was in desperate need for inspiration, but all I found was updates about the dancing policeman and the accidental porn-watcher politician. It made me sick, they were overproduced, and I seriously think that it’s time for us to move on.

But then I guess that’s the thing about being unique. While everyone is entitled to their own way-of-thinking and different perspectives, we don’t have to be like them.

We all have our rights to say what we want to say. Especially on Twitter where no rules are applied. That is also what making us special, because we are different from one another. If everyone think similarly, then being unique is going to be a very difficult task.

So I threw away that dancing policeman out of the picture and start searching for better stories. It brought me to Kiswanti, a 47 year-old woman from Bogor, who successfully changed the world in her own unique way. In general I can’t consider her as lucky, because she can only complete elementary school and married to a low-paid worker. While so many of us are complaining about money who is always a major obstacle in making our dreams come true, she proved us the contrary. When it comes to making changes, she definitely nailed it and have done major breakthrough to her own life as well as others.

The story gave a big question mark above my head and also served as an alarm. Here we are, college graduates, with enough resources and better luck, yet we are still often complaining about so many things. We have a car, we’re complaining about the traffic jam. We have a BlackBerry and we’re broadcasting hoax messages, complaining about the bad signal-coverage. We have internet access, and we’re using it to further complain on every single social-media account we have. We must be going mad. And we unconsciously make everyone else who’s related to us through the social-media world, crazy, uninspired, and highly annoyed.

With a long list of desperation and disappointment towards everything around us, how can we find time to be one of the lucky people that embraces creativity and be unique?

For me, the answer is to stop waiting and start doing. And by doing, I am talking about real personal changes which will give a positive effect for ourselves. It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to involve many people or contribute to the the nation’s welfare (although making it as one of your goal is acceptable), it only have to start from ourselves, and the goal is for our own sake.

We’re going to start by doing small, selfish, and focused activities. It can be anything, because different people will have different interest. But for me, I’m going to do it by keep on blogging. It’s an exercise to keep me occupied during my idle times, it’s a good way to share inspiring stories, and a simple, cheap, available way to feed my soul. It may not be big, but it keeps me satisfied and away from being distracted by the chaotic real world.

Like Socrates once said, “O my friend, why do you care so much about laying up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all?”

Speaking of improvement, perhaps we can imitate what these amazing students are doing all of this time, to finally win 1st and 2nd place in the international robotic competition in USA. Seems to me, they have use a better way to show their respect towards this country: By giving us their achievements in the international scene. They’re just focusing on what they do best: making robots. And just like Kiswanti, they are simply following their dream and keep their mind attached to what’s interesting to them. Things that they are passionate about.

Which come down to a question for us: What is our dream? What is your passion, and what are you going to do about it?

Well, it’s a bit cliche but it is also the question that I’ve been asking myself lately. Here I am stuck in a job which is boring to me (but I need the health insurance for me and my son, and the monthly salary to pay my bills, so I tried my best to be grateful for having a job and try not to lose it), while more and more people are taking advantages of the recent situation to make their dreams come true. If there’s anyone that I should be envious to, it’s them. Their creativity, their hard work to rise to the challenges, and their “can-do” spirit is very inspiring.

So when is the best time to start making our dreams come true? Considering the fact that nothing in life is certain, according to my friend Melissa in her blog, the best response to “when” could be: Right now.

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