I began thinking about Ashley's last post on new metaphors for school and also of my last post on creativity and how they are intertwined. The premise of the post on new metaphors referencing Sam Chaltain's blog and work, is that the common and out dated metaphors of school as factory and a child's mind as a blank slate no longer serve us and are holding us back.
What lively mind, naturally curious and wondering, could ever be considered blank? And what kind of lab or studio or place to think and solve problems and contribute to the world could ever be considered a factory?
The kinds of schools that are nurturing the better angels of our nature are also developing our intelligence, creativity, spirit and wholeness. And our desire and ability to contribute to our communities and a healthy, hopeful future for our planet.
I visited my son, Chris at work in Brooklyn a few weeks ago. He works for a start up LED company called Wavelength. He works on the 19th floor of the MetroTech Center in the Urban Future Lab...New York City’s hub for smart cities, clean energy, and smart grid technology. This floor is filled with young people in their 20s and 30s who are all working on energy for the future. Chris works with two other Middlebury College graduates, one a few years older and one a few years younger than he. I was so inspired. Young, talented, visionary, successful people inventing and designing a healthy, hopeful future. This is what creativity looks like.
Both of our sons attended The College School in St. Louis for middle school. Their schooling there was creative and innovative. They learned to be independent and collaborative learners. In seventh grade, they each composed a resume', interviewed for jobs, and took public transportation to reach their job two afternoons a week. Since then, neither of them has been without a job for very long and they have continued to learn and grow throughout.
Chris attended Middlebury College where there is a Center for Creativity, innovation, and Social Entrepreneurship, labs and studios where students are encouraged to pursue innovative ideas and work, and a popular course called MiddCORE. Look what MiddCORE is offering this summer:
MiddCORE, a four-week, mentor-powered innovation experience for undergraduates who desire to launch their education and passions into the world at large.
This credit-bearing college program offers:
- Learning in a highly collaborative environment
- Guidance from mentors who are top-tier professionals
- Problem-solving focused on the real world
- Exposure to worldwide businesses and organizations
And take a look at this. It is a promotional video for Middlebury College and look at what it emphasizes...creativity and innovation, leadership and risk-taking, deepening and sharpening one's skills and knowledge while offering them with others to the world in a way that creates a vibrant future.
Creativity involves doing things, and making things of value in all disciplines and domains of life. It can't take root if students feel that they are receiving and repeating back information instead of wrestling with real world problems and using their research, reading and brains and hearts to make sense of things and actively participate in life.
My sister in law, Kathy Cadwell has worked tirelessly to bring Socratic Dialogue to her classes and to many other teachers in her high school and beyond. In her classes, students participate in creating their own knowledge and informed, skilled perspectives on history, current world problems, and life.
Ken Robinson says that often people think that being creative means being artsy. But that is not the idea. Creating things of value as an engineer, designer, architect, cook, entrepreneur, farmer, seamstress, mason... all involves skill, perseverance, motivation, contribution, imagination, and also beauty. Everything done well, produced and composed over time, has balance and beauty to it. Imagination is the source of all human achievement writes Sir Ken Robinson.
May you all have a creative, vibrant, energetic time this summer making things, as we do all the time in our every day life...meals, occasions, flower arrangements, photographs, gardens...And when you are not being actively creative, we hope that you are floating in a lake, river or ocean, resting and relaxing, rejuvenating and dreaming. That downtime will feed your creative spirit and we all will benefit!