Tag Archives: creativity

How Our Education System Isn’t As Bad As You Think

Our education system has been under attack recently. And for good reason. We have lost track of why an education system exists. Many voices (mine included) have spewed much venom. As is normal with soapbox issues, few of those have provided workable solutions to the education epidemic going on in our country. I am a process innovation thinker – I see things as a process, I break the process down into it’s pieces, I develop innovative improvements on those pieces, and put the process back together. I’ve spent considerable time thinking this way about our education system. I cam to an important realization the other day while thinking this through in preparation for a TEDx talk I’m giving on Saturday.

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Our Education System Isn’t As Bad As We Think

Let me be clear – the No Child Left Behind, Common Core and all that nonsense is just that – nonsense. It needs to go. Those of us in the education system need to focus on students as individuals and work to prepare them to be productive citizens in the uncertain world that awaits them. We have ALOT of work to do on that level to change from the robotic, Orwellian approach that has infected our system. But the more research I do, the more I find pockets of promise – individual schools or larger units of schools doing amazing things. With this renewed promise, I think that perhaps things aren’t so bad.

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I am about to sit down and read Sir Ken Robinson’s Creative Schools – can’t wait to see what gems lurk in there, and how I can further disrupt the system based on that. It came about from his ridiculous TED talk, which you need to watch if you haven’t already – here you go!

Creativity and Passion: Ingredients for a Cure

As one night awhile back unfolded, two things happened simultaneously that created some connections I couldn’t ignore.  One was the Grammy Awards.  The other was that my son’s school district cancelled school, and then my university cancelled school that day and the next. All cancellations due to weather.  Seemingly unrelated, right?  Bear with me while I tie them together to form the basis of a new education approach that I will expand upon later.

The Music Never Stops

Why are we as a society infatuated with musicians?  Sure, part of it is jealousy and fantasy – wanting what they have that we never could.  But look and feel deeper than that.  Their music inspires us, is the thread that weaves through the stories of our life, connects us to each other.

MusicianImagine a world without these musicians and the music they produce?  So why are we so engrossed with it?  I think it is because these individuals are showing us a raw mix of creativity and passion.  They are passionate about the music they create – as passionate as anyone could be about anything (watch an old Jerry Lee Lewis clip).  Have you ever really watched the facial expressions of musicians?  In any other setting, those facial expressions would be seriously awkward, would be ridiculed.  But for a musician, we expect it.  We permit it.  We embrace it.  Why?  Because it is their passion resulting from their creativity coming through in it’s purest, rawest form.  It’s not just passion – we all have that for something.  It is the passion for creative expression.  That, to me, is the key.  That is what is so infectious, so contagious about music and musicians.

MusicThey are sharing their experiences through creativity and passion-laden stories.  That we all can understand and identify with.  We want to know more.  We want to share more.  We want to feel more.  Shouldn’t education be the same way?  Shouldn’t learning evoke the same glorious reactions?

The School Does Stop

My university and my son’s school district cancelled school.   I’ll give you one guess what the students’ reaction to this was.  Elation!

YAYCan you guess what the teachers’ reactions were?  Scanning through social media, emails, etc. I see teachers who are equally as pumped about school closing as students.  (This is for another soapbox moment, but that reaction from teachers tells an awful lot about the state of education).  Back to the issue.  Why are students not mad about missing school?  Because they don’t like it – they have a better alternative.  Why don’t they like it?  What is their alternative?  It is creativity and passion – the things that we provide at home or elsewhere away from school.  They can use their imagination, they can explore their surroundings, they can develop their own stories.  They have the opportunity to engage their creativity and to feel and share their passion.  The students don’t miss anything about school because they can’t be creative, because they can’t explore or express their passion, because they cannot share and explore their own experiences.  That doesn’t fit in a box or map onto some standardized test, so the school don’t let them (for the most part – of course there are some that do).  Some will argue that students can do this within the framework of the common core nonsense.  Yes, but they have to do it within that box.  If we took the box away and allowed them to explore, to be creative, to share and live their passion, I think students would be pissed when school was cancelled.  How happy would we be as parents if our children were upset when school was cancelled?

NoHow happy would we be as educators if our students wanted to engage in class, and were telling us how pissed they were when class was cancelled?

Creativity and Passion

As with most problems, the path to a solution doesn’t have to be difficult.  It just takes a little bit of innovative thinking, creativity, and passion.  Look at musicians.  As we’re cutting funding for music and other self-expression outlets in schools, let’s think about what we’re doing.  Are the people who fit into boxes contagious, infectious?  Are they telling stories we want to hear and share?  Are they the role models that effectuate positive social change?  A resounding NO!!!!  Musicians hold part of the promise for education.  In their passion and in their creativity.  It is through that mixture that children can once again love learning and the environment where they learn.  Think about the last time your children were truly engaged, were being thrilled, were laughing contagiously.

SwingI’ll wager those moments had something to do with being creative and had something to do with something the child is passionate about.  We need to get back to the power of creativity and the power of passion.   I’ll explain how I see that happening in a future post.