We urge all those concerned about the creativity crunch to consider the following: Just as one masters knitting and carpentry by apprenticeship to previous masters, so one masters creative know-how by apprenticeship to demonstrably creative masters. Let’s re-humanize education by putting people and their thinking processes back into the center of every subject. Let’s test our students not only on their knowledge of discoveries, inventions and other innovations, but on how well they have understood the processes by which they were achieved. The more paths to creativity that students explore vicariously and recreates mentally, the better prepared they will be to recognize opportunities for creative achievement in their own lives.
It’s not irony, but it’s close. Contemporary art – created to challenge conventions and alter perspectives – is shared with the public via institutions largely unchanged in 540 years. Visitors to the 15th-century Capitoline Museums in Rome would be at home in today’s contemporary art museum and unlikely impressed by our innovations, like gift shops, audio tours and Wolfgang Puck snack bars.
Think about it: over the past five centuries, humankind has sparked the Scientific Revolution, the Industrial Revolution and the Digital Revolution; dramatically increased literacy, life expectancy and individual wealth; and we’re still marching schoolchildren through stark hallways to see artifacts in antiseptic galleries.
If you want to teach online, here’s a starter kit from Edutopia. My sister teachers remotely and it isn’t the cushy, relaxing job that many describe. It may have flexibility but it is very hard work with many of the same issues you have in a face to face classroom. Just be aware that if you don’t want to work, you shouldn’t teach: offline or face to face. Teaching, in my experience, takes everything you have but it gives you far more in return.
“In a landmark 2009 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Stanford University researchers compared the attention-switching abilities of people who said they multitasked often with those of people who did so rarely. It found that the frequent multitaskers were more easily distracted and performed worse on memory and attention tests than those who preferred to do one thing at a time.”—Studies on Multitasking Highlight Value of Self-Control
Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path, and there is not affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition.
I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question. This question is one that only a very old person asks. My benefactor told me about it once when I was young, and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Now I do understand it.
I will tell you what it is: Does this path have a heart?
All paths are the same, they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long, long paths, but I am not anywhere. My benefactor’s question has meaning now. “Does this path have a heart?” One makes you strong; the other weakens you.
The trouble is nobody asks the question: and when a person finally realizes that they have taken a path without heart, the path is ready to kill them. At that point very few people stop to deliberate and leave the path.
A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it.
For my part there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length.
And there I travel looking, looking breathlessly.
The Path With A Heart from ‘Don Juan a Yaqui Warrior’
Discovered a group of 200+ education bloggers connecting and sharing their posts from various blogging platform in a Facebook group. Looks like a good resource to expand and broaden your PLN and education blogroll.
…when your listening to another teacher’s class tell you about their project and they ask you about some resources, so you send the whole class an email with links (cc:ed to the other teacher). Later their teacher emails you about how you shouldn’t interfere with their project.
“Ironically, we talk today of how small our world has become, with the shrinking effect of globalization, instant sharing of information, quick technology, workplaces that operate around the globe. Yet these do not necessarily create a sense of belonging. They provide connection, diverse information, an infinite range of opinion. But all this does not create the connection from which we can become grounded and experience the sense of safety that arises from a place where we are emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically a member.”—Peter Block, from Community: The Structure of Belonging
You know when people talk of an experience leaving a terrible taste?
Well I live in and oversee a dormitory of 47 9th grade boys, and to be perfectly honest, there are very few times when I move through this building and the social gatherings that occur in the building and think: boy, am I proud to be part of this community.
I hate to be Debbie Downer, but there is something about this place and the culture that emerges within it that makes me wish for a real community where young people feel a sense of responsibility to each other and ownership of the whole. Yes, I know I’m a dreamer, but I’m a dreamer with ambition and I’m one who is convinced that dreams can come true.
At the beginning of the year I remember thinking how most of my job in this residential setting was not about engaging in community efforts, but telling students what they should or shouldn’t be doing. Even now I feel like I’m just constantly on the lookout for those students who try to game the system solely for their own benefit; my job is to make swift interventions day in and out.
I have moments where I wonder if it would be better for me just to find another place where the mission is truly about building and fostering community, a sense of belonging, et c. On the other hand I can spend my efforts, my mental energy, and my time trying to make this school better and move it in the direction of that vision.
On my way back from Outward Bound recently, I was thinking on what communities of learning should really be about. I find that I do lots of great thinking when I’m travelling on a plane or a bus or a train. I started developing this vision of a Community Learning Center that brings people together for the sake of building strong bonds between people, and does so through a framework of learning projects focused on sustainability, craftsmanship, knowledge construction, and innovation: a place that reduces hierarchical models of organization and focuses on the interests, skills, and knowledge of those present to create environments that free up curiosity and inspire action.
Tomorrow I’ll tell you more about this dream place.
Today at our faculty meeting, a very well-respected (and deservedly so) colleague finished up a talk she started a few weeks ago on empathy in school (particularly in our school — residential/9-12).
I believe that the the things we choose to measure end up influencing the values we hold as a school. It’s important for a school to value empathy.
What I don’t think we do that well is providing/designing and facilitating experiences where students are faced with opportunities to practice empathy authentically. In our curriculum, the heart is left to grow on its own. We don’t know how to measure it, how to design for it, and we’re scared to try.
If we want a community that thrives on compassion, we need to be comfortable not only probing the minds of our students, but also entering into honest conversations with their hearts.
Call it the “learning paradox”: the more you struggle and even fail while you’re trying to master new information, the better you’re likely to recall and apply that information later. The learning paradox is at the heart of “productive failure,” a phenomenon identified by Manu Kapur, a researcher at the Learning Sciences Lab at the National Institute of Education of Singapore […]
Kapur has identified three conditions that promote this kind of beneficial struggle.
First, choose problems to work on that “challenge but do not frustrate.”
Second, provide learners with opportunities to explain and elaborate on what they’re doing.
Third, give learners the chance to compare and contrast good and bad solutions to the problems.
And to those students and workers who protest this tough-love teaching style: you’ll thank me later.
“Instead, nowadays everyone just uses Google to find stuff. This means that we all know exactly the same 10 (somewhat random) things about any given topic.”—“An Archivist,” Ask an Archivist, The Hairpin. (via thepinakes)
“Creativity shouldn’t be seen as something otherworldly. It shouldn’t be thought of as a process reserved for artists and inventors and other “creative types.” The human mind, after all, has the creative impulse built into its operating system, hard-wired into its most essential programming code. At any given moment, the brain is automatically forming new associations, continually connecting an everyday x to an unexpected y.”—Jonah Lehrer on how creativity really works. (via explore-blog)