Tag Archives: Ken Robinson

What do you create?

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I am a fan of creativity. I like to develop my own creativity, and I like to encourage the development of creativity in others.

One thing I always loved about teaching was the opportunity it gave me to be creative: writing stories, units of work, and lessons plans to interest and excite the children about learning. It is this love that drives me to write my blog posts each week, and to create new early childhood teaching resources for readilearn nearly every week.

Just as exciting was the opportunity to support the development of children’s thinking, imagination, and creativity. I am more in favour of treating children as individuals, than as one of a homogeneous group from which any difference is considered an aberration.  After all, imagination and creative thinking are what inspire and drive improvement, innovation and progress.

I affirm my belief in the power of creativity in my tagline: ‘Create the possibilities . . .’, a tagline I previously used for an independent school I was establishing.

create-the-possibilities

Preceding both was my first independent undertaking: Create-A-Way.  Create-A-Way provided a richer educational and social setting for my young daughter than what was generally available, allowed me to share my educational philosophy and knowledge, and provided the same rich learning opportunities for other children and their parents. The development of imagination and creativity was a focus.

Guiding parents in play sessions for parents and children.

Guiding parents in play sessions for parents and children.

One of the things I love most about responding to the weekly flash fiction challenges set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch is the additional opportunity to engage in something creative and to hone my writing skills. The supportive environment of a welcoming community makes it a safe and enjoyable experience. There is something affirming about belonging to a community of other creatives, online or in -person.

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On Saturday I, along with a whole bunch of other women creatives, attended an excellent Book Marketing Masterclass conducted by authorpreneur Karen Tyrrell. (I am looking forward to interviewing Karen for the Author Spotlight series on readilearn in March.) The class was attended by writers of a variety of genres; including memoir, romance, science fiction, fantasy, YA, and picture books.

One of the attendees Chrissy Byers has created a lovely picture book The Magic in Boxes which “aims to capture the imagination of young readers and inspire creative play.”

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Not only does the book suggest ways of stimulating creativity using recycled materials such as cardboard boxes, the book is made from recycled paper. I think that’s pretty awesome. It’s a beautiful book with a wonderful aim.

lemons and grapefruit

For a little more on creativity; in a previous post, Are you a lemon or a grapefruit? I shared ten articles about creativity. They are still relevant and worthy of a read if you haven’t yet done so.

I also shared one of my favourite TED talks by Sir Ken Robinson How schools kill creativity. If yours is not yet one of the over 41 million views, I urge you to watch it. As well as sharing a very important message, Ken is hugely entertaining.

I hope I have convinced you of the importance and power of creativity. I thank Charli and her flash fiction prompt for the opportunity of revisiting some of my favourite articles and talks about creativity. This week her challenge is to “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the theme, “women create.” It can be art, sewing, ideas, babies. What is at the heart of women as creators? Go where the prompt takes you.”

I’m a woman, and I create, and education is in my heart.

In response to Charli’s challenge, I thought I’d get a little dirty. I hope you like it.

Prize pies

“Life’s not on a plate. It’s what you create.”

Two little girls in their Sunday best

Snuck outside when they should have been at rest;

Splashed in the puddles, laughed in the rain,

Shared mud pies and murky champagne.

 

Two young girls with flour in their hair

Climbed on the bench from the back of a chair;

Opened up the cupboards, emptied out the shelves,

Less in the bowl and more on themselves.

 

Two young women watching TV

Decide master chefs are what they will be;

Enter the contest, invent new pies,

Wow the judges and win the prize.

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Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

 

Which school? I found one!

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Most parents want to provide what is best for their children. However, they don’t always know what that best is, where it is available or how to get it. This is just as true of schooling as it is of anything else. Fortunately, most children are adequately schooled locally, be it at a state or privately run facility.

I attended a Catholic school and have taught in both the Catholic and State systems. I see little real difference between what is offered in local private and local public schools as far as philosophy, pedagogy and quality of teaching goes. The differences, as I see them, are more due to the inequities in funding for facilities and resources, the restriction to accessibility by the imposition of fees, and the ability of privately run organisations to decline students as opposed to the state’s willingness to cater for all.

While I think most schools do an excellent job of schooling, there are aspects I don’t like.

© Norah Colvin

© Norah Colvin

Fortunately, most children survive school and graduate adequately prepared for life in the adult world. But the scarring carried by many, whether visible or hidden, emotional or intellectual, is a cost that should not be accepted.

In this TED talk Sir Ken Robinson asks “Do Schools Kill Creativity? He explains why he thinks they do and the manner in which they do it. He ends the talk saying,

“our task is to educate their whole being, so they can face this future. … we may not see this future, but they will. And our job is to help them make something of it. “

By the time Bec was born I had already decided that I wanted more than schooling for her. I had read voraciously about learning and education. I had observed the magic of learning as my son wondered, questioned, explored and reignited my own curiosity, during his before school years. I saw those same traits inhibited by uninspiring teachers. I have written about this before here and in an article published in a teachers’ magazine when Bec was of school starting age. At that time, it was necessary to make decisions about her ongoing education.

To school or not to school

I had already explored local (and not-so local) alternatives. I attended information sessions, read their publications (no Google back then), and visited schools to observe their practices and speak with teachers, children and parents. Disappointingly I found none that met all of my criteria.

Some “schools” provided little stimulus or input to extend or challenge children’s thinking. Some were very structured and without flexibility in their approach. Some that claimed to be alternative appeared to be not so with uniforms and strict rules and timetables. Some that claimed to be mainstream were more child-focused with an organic curriculum matched to children’s interests, but lacked other things I sought.

When the pluses and minuses of each were considered, there wasn’t one with a compelling scoresheet. There was nothing for it but to found my own, a possibility I had been contemplating for some time and a “dream” shared by many teachers. The Centre of Learning Opportunities was born. These are some of the original documents drawn up by the team back then.

Vision

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COLO brochure inside

While working to establish this alternative to school, I began an MPhil research project “Educational Diversity: Why school? What school?” which, as well as exploring educational alternatives, was to record the first year of an (my) alternative school. As part of the project I conducted a survey of local alternative schools with the aim of recording the diversity of approaches available in order to demonstrate that there is more than one way to obtain a quality education.

Although the degree went down the same dead end path as the school, I was able to (self) publish and distribute the results of my research to participating schools in a document titled “Diversity in Schooling: Discovering educational alternatives in South-East Queensland.” (Surprise, surprise, I have just discovered it in a Google search. How weird is that!)

Diversity

I was reminded of my research and this document by a recent discussion with Pauline King, The Contented Crafter in response to my post Life — A “choose your own” adventure. When I alluded to the wisdom of young children and “our” efforts to obliterate it, Pauline agreed and suggested that she could do a post-long comment on the topic.  I jumped at the chance and immediately invited her to do so. Pauline again agreed but suggested I refine a set of questions as she could fill a book with her ideas. I”m working on it.

Responding to The Industrious Child Pauline wrote,

“Teachers need to be SO flexible in their ability to see their world, their work, their class as a whole and their individual students – it is never a one step process and different expectations and challenges can be laid down for different abilities. Almost every child will shine somewhere within the curriculum and many struggle somewhere else. After all, we all have our different talents and abilities. Schools are structured to meet the needs of a certain academic ability and those who fall above or below that parameter are, in my opinion, so often mis-educated.”

It is obvious that Pauline, Ken Robinson, and I, along with many others, are part of the same revolution.

In another comment on my post I found it first Pauline shared that she had spent many years trying to establish a school of her own but had found “an already working alternative system and never regretted it.”

I think I have questions enough for Pauline to fill a book’s worth of posts and look forward to sharing some of these in the future. If you have questions of your own, please pop them into a comment and we’ll see what we can do.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Thank you to my wonderful students, and their lovely Mum who made this for me!

3 Inspiring educators

Like every other teacher, I want to make a difference in the world.

The thought that I could make a positive difference to the life of another is both empowering and inspiring.

To do so, I seek out others making a positive difference and pay it forward, hoping that the ripple effect will carry it far and wide.

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Three inspiring educators who have positively influenced me are:

Brian Cambourne

Brian is an amazing literacy educator from whom I had the extreme good fortune of learning many years ago. I have written about him before here and here.

Brian’s work focused on the conditions necessary for literacy development. His influence has spread beyond the classroom with the application of the conditions to learning in the workforce demonstrated.

Tony Ryan

Tony is an amazing educator who does his best to be the change he wants to see in the world. He talks about future-proofing and using innovative thinking to solve problems of both local and global importance.

Anyone who believes ‘that education is the most important profession on the planet’ and does everything in his power to support teachers to be outstanding, as does Tony; must be pretty good in my books.

One of Tony’s books The Ripple Effect is particularly apt for mention in this post. Tony says,

“you must believe in your personal power to create ripples that spread out and change the world. In fact, if it is not you who is going to do it, then who else do you think is likely to make the effort? Remember that every change on this planet begins with a human being somewhere, somehow. It may as well be you.”

This year Tony has started a new project called The Earth Movers Foundation which ‘helps young teenagers to create solutions to local and global issues. And they get to choose their own project. No adults will be telling them what project to do. They decide for themselves.’ Sounds pretty good to me.

Ken Robinson

Ken is another amazing educator. I fell in love with his ideas when I listened to his TED talk Do schools kill creativity? which I have also shared before here.

The statement on his website declares that

“Imagination is the source of all human achievement”.

I could not argue with that.

Ken introduces this short video The writing spirit which presents quotes from artists, thinkers, writers, innovators and snippets of interviews with writers. Just incidentally, and exciting for me, Richard Bach is included. Richard is the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, one of my favourite books for its inspirational message.

It is more than likely that these educators have no idea how they have influenced my life (and others as a result).

How wonderful might it be to know of the positive influence you have had on someone, and to have the opportunity of letting others know that they have positively impacted your life?

This is the purpose of The Butterfly Light Award which was bestowed upon me my Lisa Reiter, a lovely lady who is herself inspirational for her courage and her positive attitude which she shares with others through her blog Sharing the story. Thank you, Lisa. I am honoured and accept with pleasure.

As with any award, it comes with conditions:

  1. You should write an acceptance post, making sure you link back to the blogger who awarded you and thank them. You MAY NOT lump this award in with a batch of other awards.

Thank you Lisa Reiter!

  1. You must individually name and re-award to a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 9999999 bloggers. You must let them know either personally with a comment on their blog OR a pingback.

As I have been writing about educators, I am going to stick with that theme. A quick visit to these blogs will explain why I have selected them.

Ruth Mancini

The Nerdy Book Club

Two Writing Teachers

Raising a literate human

3.  You should link back to Belinda’s blog either to http://idiotwriting.wordpress.com/about/ or http://idiotwriting.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/i-love-charismatic-geeks/

Done!

  1. You must write a short paragraph entitled either “How I’m Spreading Light” OR “How I’m A Positive Influence” (what Lisa calls ‘the squirmy bit’).

Done! See beginning of article.

5. Display Belinda’s lovely “Butterfly Light Award” badge on your blog.

Thank you, Belinda. It’s a pleasure! We can never have too many butterflies!

butterfly-light-award

Note: The beautiful framed quote, pictured at the top of this post, was made for me by a wonderful lady, the mother of two of my students. They all share my love of butterflies! I thank them for sharing their appreciation of my positive influence.

I welcome your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of the article.

What is education, anyway? Pt.1

One of my favourite talks about education is a TED talk given by Ken Robinson in 2006 “How schools kill creativity”.

His contention is that

“creativity . . . is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.”

Although the video has had more than 21 million views (while quite a few of them mine, nowhere near that number!) and drawn over 3 000 comments during the last 8 years, his views need to reach a wider audience still; an audience with the power to enact change.
One thing I had always loved about teaching was the opportunity to express myself creatively, and to encourage my students to do the same. Unfortunately the current emphasis on a content-driven, top-down approach where test results reign supreme has left little room for anyone’s creativity. I am not saying there was ever much opportunity for creativity in formal schooling, but creative teachers could always squeeze a bit it. Now the opportunities for creative “massage” are few.
My optimism for positive change in education is always raised when I read or hear of others who share similar views. I think if enough voices are heard chanting the same message that a change may come.
This post (and article in Saturday’s QWeekend magazine) by Mary-Rose Maccoll “Why Banff means the World” also proclaims the vision of Ken Robinson. Mary-Rose is another fan.
She says that

“Being at the Banff Centre (in Canada) has made me reflect on what we lose when we don’t foster art, when we don’t foster creativity. And what we lose is the world.”

She says that

“even as school education becomes increasingly narrow in its focus, we’re also seeing a decline in performance on the very outcomes that standardisation seeks to improve.”

She concludes by saying,

“As I sit in my room and watch the mountains, listening to the trail of a contraband sax down the hall (you’re supposed to play in the soundproofed studios in the forest), reading a piece by a Scottish writer, I am grateful for artists. In our 21st century world, we surely need them.”

I agree wholeheartedly as, I’m sure would Ken Robinson, along with Teachling whose post What is Education, anyway?Pt 1 I reblog for you here.

I agree with Teachling’s belief that

“many teachers would feel that – as well as their students’ innate talents and creativity being snuffed – their own talents and creativity don’t get much of a look-in. I believe most teachers are very restricted in terms of what they teach as well as how they teach it.”

I also agree with her when she states that

“that there’s very little teachers can do about it.

It’s the administrators and politicians that should take Robinson’s advice. It’s also the perceptions of a majority of parents that would need to vastly change if any rethinking of fundamental principles were to occur.”

Have a listen to Ken and read these other posts, then let me know what you think.

How can we make our voices be heard to ensure that creativity and innovation is not lost for the future?

Teachling

Ken Robinson’s take on schools, and how they kill creativity…

You’re likely one of the 20,738,467 viewers of Ken Robinson’s “Schools Kill Creativity” 2006 TED Talk. Robinson’s assertion, and general gist of the talk, is that “all kids have tremendous talents, and we squander them; pretty ruthlessly”. The “we”, we can infer from the rest of his talk, are schools.

Let me pick out some key points:
• “My contention is that creativity, now, is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.”
• “We are educating people out of their creative capacities.”
• “Every education system on Earth has the same hierarchy of subjects… At the top are Mathematics and Languages, then the Humanities and at the bottom are the Arts… And in pretty much every education system there’s a hierarchy within the Arts. Art and Music are normally given a higher…

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