A few months ago, a dear friend stopped by to visit with her two girls; aged six and two. I was currently pregnant with my first; who is now an unbelievable six months old. Approaching motherhood with the same scientific mentality as I had for my career, I decided to conduct a simple experiment to test the effectiveness of my newly installed baby gate. As veterinarians, my husband and I have accumulated a fair number of pets and keeping little ones out of our dedicated cat room with litter boxes, water bowls, and tiny sized food choking hazards was a top priority. The girls were asked to attempt to enter the cat room. They sized up the gate and while the eldest attempted to unlock the catch, the youngest slid down on her belly and went right under the gate. In placing the gate a few inches above the floor to allow the cats to come and go, I had also unintentionally created an easy opening for young crawlers. I was so focused on the latch and lock in the gate, it never occurred to me to view the world from that perspective; ingenious.
Children are by definition ingenious. They see the world with fresh eyes and often are able to envision solutions or ideas that an adult simply cannot or will not see. A quick popular media search will readily identify multitudes of children who are by nature ingenious; defined as clever, inventive, creative, imaginative and original.
As a third grader, Katie Stagliano showed her cleverness through the development of a program to supply fresh produce to food kitchens.
A 17-year-old girl named Brittany Wenger invented an app to detect breast cancer with a 99% sensitivity.
A creative 9-year-old little boy named Caine, built an entire arcade in his father’s used auto parts shop out of cardboard and landed himself a starring role in a short film. He is now a recognized figure head for supporting entrepreneurship in other children, and boasts a hefty college scholarship fund.
Christopher Paolini, a 15-year-old imaginative boy wrote a very popular book, Eragon, that went on to sell over 2.5 million copies.
Children create as originals, instinctively. This is beautifully summarized by Pablo Picasso; “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
As parents, educators, and Americans we are responsible for investing in and supporting our children’s ingenuity and enabling them to thrive. The young individuals portrayed above were allowed to dream and play, take up hobbies, and make decisions about how they wished to spend their time. Katie’s and Brittany’s ideas were acknowledged and given credibility through adult support in the form of press and awards. Caine’s father allowed him to play and create, while filmmaker, Nirvan Mullick shared Caine’s story with the world. The Paolini family supported Christopher finishing his novel and assisted in his self publishing. A famous mystery writer, Carl Hiaasen, took the initiative to contact his publisher when his own son recognized the ingenious of Eragon. and by doing so brought the book to millions.
Our children have ideas to change the world with new perspective and vision. As adults we have the capability to turn their ideas into reality and become ingenious ourselves. As we celebrate ingenuity this week at Folk magazine, I would encourage you to look at your own children, the young neighbor down the street, the child next to you in church, or the child crawling under your strategically placed baby gate, and recognize the possibility that through encouragement and love you could be fostering American ingenuity.
~Erika @ Prey Species
This article was created for use in the “FOLK Magazine Community Journal Challenge.”