Little and Big C Creativity

by Nina Meehan

In creativity theory, there is a concept of the 4C’s: Mini-C, Little-C, Pro-C and Big-C. The idea behind each one of these is that creativity within our society serves different purposes and functions. Big-C is talking about creativity through the work of individuals who have had a national and international impact on our culture, community and society with their work. Pro-C is for those creators who are well-known within their field and area of expertise and are at the top of their form. Little-C refers to the day to day act of creation that all of us can undertake, a song that is composed around a campfire, a painting that is for the enjoyment of the creator and a few friends on instagram, a new creative idea for how to move along the pick up lane at school that really helps one group of parents. And Mini-C is the creative process that sometimes doesn’t even leave our own minds or, if it does, it is purely for the process of learning and experimenting. 

In our families, we have the opportunity to engage with all of these different types of creativity on a daily basis. Play a Beethoven piece over dinner and you are experiencing and sharing Big-C. Attend a Bay Area Children’s Theatre production or take a class with a teaching artist and you are seeing Pro-C at work. Create an original piece of art with your child that tells the story of your family vacation and post it to your Whatsapp group, that is Little-C. And, look at the challenge of getting your kids out the door on time in the morning from a new perspective or experiment with a different way to organize the bedtime routine, that is Mini-C.

The key, from my perspective, is that we need all of these types of Creativity in our world. How can we expect to have new and exciting creators who become the Pro-C and Big-C thinkers of the future if we don’t encourage our kids to start to learn and fail and try again, in all sorts of different domains of creativity. How will they ever learn to do that if we don’t model that behavior? 

Try a family C inventory: Are you engaging with all levels of creativity? What easy and simple things could you add to your family activities or routines to incorporate any missing levels of creativity? Do you talk about or use products that really big thinkers invented or created? Are mistakes and failing encouraged when trying new things? Do you model the joy of Little-C creativity by being proud of what you are making instead of letting our critical voice out and undermining our accomplishments? Do you have any Pro-C creators in your community? Have you asked them about their work and how they use creativity in their lives?

Can you find more opportunities to listen/watch/engage with visual, performing, digital art? What types of creative activities do you all enjoy doing together?