There’s no script

Continuing yesterday’s thread, it’s important that we teach young people how to ask the right questions and instill confidence to answer those questions. (Confidence is gained through continually encountering problems and then solving those problems.)

If you have time, scroll to the 9:53 mark in the following video:

Many people see themselves as “puzzle builders.” They need the pieces given to them in order to produce. But what if a piece or two is missing?

The above video posits that we must all be “quilt makers” to be truly innovative. We must leverage the materials that are readily available to be successful.

There’s no script. The future is not laid out neatly before us. To be successful in 2014 and beyond, students must be taught to answer questions without all the resources on a silver platter.

Creativity in education

I can’t think of a better way to help students solve 21st century problems than to give them tools that foster creativity. A 1:1 device is great, but it’s not the end in and of itself. It’s a means to an end, and the “end” includes–but is not limited to–learning, problem solving, and reaching higher levels of thinking.

If you haven’t seen the following video, I highly recommend it:

Sir Ken Robinson is right on. We are born with creativity. My four and three-year-old children draw, pretend, sculpt, decorate, (play) cook, ask questions–and then ask more questions–all the time. Creativity fosters better learning, but it’s also helpful for living a happy life. My children are most happy when they play. I’m most happy at play.

Creativity is critical to our existence in many different ways.

Lifelong learning

Recently I’ve been using the internet to learn about Google Apps for Education in order to pass at least five tests to become a “Google Educator.” (Fortunately, I just passed the fifth test!)

I’ve spent the last two months studying, and one of the biggest takeaways upon reflection is how important it is to cultivate within young students a willingness to learn on their own.

With so much information at our fingertips, developing new skills has never been easier. Young people must understand that learning never stops. Too many programs are being created–and changed–on a continual basis, making it impossible to exit college and never participate in another lecture, tutorial, how-to book, etc.

Learning is not always easy. Sometimes it’s very difficult, so the educational system must instill a willingness to keep learning so students will never cease their intellectual and skill set growth.

How is this done?

That’s the trillion dollar question. The best place to start is to teach content the students find relevant–even enjoyable. Give them tools that foster creativity. Allow them to publish their work to a wider audience than just the teacher or classroom. Make learning 24/7. These are essentials for today’s young generation.

You need to read to write

In order to write, you’ve got to read. Reading is essential for acquiring new thoughts and perspectives. It widens your vocabulary and helps you find your voice as a writer–especially if you’re diving into books by great writers.

The words dry up in my mind when I’m not reading. This is because books are the spring from which all my creative juices flow. It’s interesting how when I read non-fiction, I blog about non-fiction stuff. When I read fiction, I write flash fiction entries and work on novels. I can push myself in different creative directions by reading various books. They’re like oars, so to speak.

Unfortunately, reading many times takes a back seat to everything else going on in life. In order to be creative, it’s important to remember that reading is part of the creative process. Taking time to open a book is like taking time to type at the computer.

The beginning of the project

Ed Catmull writes about what he calls “ugly babies.” These are projects that start out really rough and get more refined and polished with time; think of an ugly baby who grows into a charming youth and then graceful adult.

Catmull says most Pixar movies follow this pattern. You wouldn’t want to see the early sketches and stories because they’re so bad. Movies like Finding Nemo and Toy Story 2 emerge out of a lot of work and a ton of iteration–they don’t begin with the same resonance the finished products embody.

This is very important to remember when starting a project. It’s OK if things begin ugly. You have to start somewhere. Great work emerges after additions, modifications, and a lot of collaboration.