Fearless Creativity

The Seed is bursting with creativity these days, fearless creativity.  The 1st/2nd graders have been honing their skills as makers of marble runs and the PreK students are cooking up all kinds of new concoctions in their recently renovated outdoor kitchen.  The Toddler 1s, in their study of hands, have produced watercolor replicas of their own hands that are breathtaking.  Teachers are enthusiastically preparing for next week’s Invention Convention.  The arrival of this quote from Seth Godin couldn’t have been more timely:   “The enemy of creativity…is fear.  We’re all born creative, it takes a little while to become afraid.  A surprising insight: an enemy of fear is creativity. Acting in a creative way generates action, and action persuades the fear to lighten up.”

I’ve said for many years that we work in possibilities at the Seed.  Working this way requires fearlessness, because often there is no well traveled path ahead.  We are constantly observing and listening to children, inviting them to guide us in the direction our work is calling us.  We pay attention to their academic and cognitive needs, developing materials and lessons to teach necessary skills.  We teach them to read and write, to care about doing their best.  Our practice is not just to prepare them to do well on tests; instead, we teach them to love learning.  Someone once said that this kind of teaching is preparing children for the marathon of life, not a series of short sprints.  We are in it for the long run, which includes much more than academics.  Children at the Seed are encouraged to express themselves verbally, physically and creatively.  They learn how to be with each other in ways that promote healthy relationships.  Learning how to make good choices is high on our priority list.  We want them to see how they fit into the big picture of life and that their presence on Planet Earth makes a difference.

A parent sent me an article this week that describes truths about education that keep getting ignored (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/01/20/ten-obvious-truths-about-educating-kids-that-keep-getting-ignored/).  The original article was written by Alfie Kohn, in my opinion one of our greatest contemporary pedagogical thinkers.  Among the ten truths, he mentions these points:

• we want children to develop in many ways, not just academically
• just knowing a lot of facts doesn’t mean you’re smart
• students are more likely to learn what they find interesting
• students are less interested in whatever they’re forced to do and more
enthusiastic when they have some say
• students are more likely to succeed in a place where they feel known and
cared about

Of all his truths, the last one stands out the most.  I know we do this well and it’s how we help children learn to be fearlessly creative.  If you want a glimpse of how it happens, check this out:  http://vimeo.com/119309548