Hi! I'm Edith (Edie) Erickson and I am a 3rd (soon to be 4th) grade teacher at St. Francis de Sales School in Manistique, MI in the *finally* snow-free UP. I currently teach all subjects, but will be partnering up with another teacher so I will only be teaching ELA and science in the fall. I started the MAET program this past January and CEP 800 is a required course. When I'm done with MAET, I hope to be able to teach online and/or act as a technology consultant over the summers. In my spare time, I like to work of my house (my husband and I bought our first home last April), work in the garden, read, sculpt, ride my bike, camp, travel, and go for rides in the wood. We have some big renovations to do this summer because we're also expecting a baby this November!
The big issue that I noticed is that educators, parents, psychiatrists, really adults in general are looking for the "right" way of doing something. The child in the video was creating an amazing and creative piece of work, yet the narrow idea of what was right caused the adults in his life to overlook the grand work he was creating. The part where the student's desk is empty was especially meaningful to me. It seems to be a metaphor for the way our culture (and many others) deal with people who don't go along with the social norms and expectations set before them. Instead of nurturing and allowing for understanding and different ways of thinking, we try to remove and eliminate the "problem" rather than taking the time to fully understand what is going on. As teachers, we test, prod, and refer students to the point where they give up and conform to what is "right" or give up and "fail", possibly losing the creativity and thinking skills that make them unique.
I watched this video several times and experienced several different emotions. On my first watch, it made me sad, sad because as an educator I know that stifling creative is, and has been, a huge problem in education, yet I don't know how to solve it within the confines of the current education system. I also felt guilty that I am a part of this educational system that is crushing the creativity of many children and I haven't done more to foster a trait that I feel is so important to my own personal happiness and success. After watching the video again, I actually felt kind of hopeful. I have a high respect for all educators, and I feel that if educators around the world are discussing this issue, it gives me hope that we can figure this out in a way that benefits our students and the world they will create as adults.
The major message to educators should be that patience and flexible thinking on our part can allow a child to think and create in ways that we wouldn't have imagined. As hard (and risky at times) as it is, we need to look past the test scores and examine our students for what they can do. In a world where test scores can determine whether or not you keep a job, it is a risky endevor to focus on nurturing what a child is passionate about, especially when that passion is not language or math. For me, this video is a call to action for both parents and teachers. We as adults need to stop thinking about what is "right" and think more about the thought that goes into the choices and decisions our children make. We need to be there to guide, nourish, and inspire creativity in all of our students, not crush it out of them in hopes of higher test scores.
I have been interested in the idea of cultivating curiosity and creativity in my students pretty much since I stared work on my undergrad and into my career as a teacher, but even more so now that I am expecting a child of my own. I've done a bit of reading on the subject, and find the topic to be very intriguing. I don't know how many of you have watched any TED talks, but if you haven't, you need to! The Japanese video presented this week actually reminded me of a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson (it is excellent, you can watch it here: http://bit.ly/10biu1R). In his talk, Robinson discusses the same idea addressed in the Japanese video, which is how the current educational system doesn't allow for deviation from what society deems as correct. It really is a great video to further inspire educators to value and nurture creativity in our children.
"Greetings to the UP, and congratulations on the growing family! Very insightful and thought-provoking posts, both in terms of your initial- and response posts. You highlighted key aspects and found compelling illustrations from your own practice. The Ken Robinson video is a great resource to add!"