Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Talking Alphabet Hair

Diversity at its best: We were watching a Sesame Street episode where the Baby Bear character is getting his first haircut (ironically, about two hours after Q's haircut), and he asks the barber if he has ever cut bear hair. The barber responds, "Oh sure, I get a lot of business from Sesame Street. I cut human hair, animal hair, monster hair, even talking alphabet hair. All kinds of hair!"

Following the educational principles of Sesame Street, I'm going to make a strained segue into a video for those of you who are interested in education and creativity. It's about twenty minutes long, but worth it – thought-provoking content mixed with dry wit.

Are we "educating our children out of creativity" as the speaker proposes? How can we nurture their strengths, especially if they aren't in the norm of what is prized in school? The video clip is from TED, a legendary conference on Technology, Entertainment, Design, where Sir Ken Robinson points out that public education didn't exist before the 19th century, and it was created to serve the newly industrializing societies. Certain subjects were prized because they gave students the skills to get a job – writing and mathematics, for instance, rather than the arts and humanities.

SwingDaddy and I talked about this tonight. Technology has made the dissemination of information so fast, that a person no longer has to climb on top of the mountain of industry, to win the corporate game, before he or she has a chance to flourish creatively. Instead, post a video to YouTube, write a blog, make a stunning web page, or even found a tech startup . . . like YouTube or Blogger.

Now more than ever, people have an opportunity to make or follow change as fast as it's happening. This ability to innovate, to think beyond what is currently defined, is the skill children need to learn in order to be successful in the next 20, 30, 100 years. We will do our best to help Q thrive in traditional academics, but it's just as important for us to remember to give him space and encouragement to play music and pursue passions. Who knows where those will lead?


Bon said...

i will admit i skipped the video as i know O's about to wake up any minute and i hate to start what i can't finish, but i'll go back and check it out later.

i will say that i'm very much with you on the lag between systemic education and innovation. i spent part of last year teaching an M.Ed course to teachers and, while i am a teacher myself and have respect for the profession, found that questions of innovation left me generally beating my head against the wall. our tradition of schooling was built on a military model and is still heavily focused on issues of crowd control and rote learning, even when the very best of teachers make gargantuan efforts to make the classroom a creative and nurturing place.

we teach kids to sit down and follow rules and learn to work independently, and increasingly spring them on a world asking them to collaborate and innovate. the two simply don't jive.

Bon said...

and now...he's awake!

Mike said...

If I can be so bold as to make a book suggestion. Richard Louv wrote Last Child in the Woods and proposed a fascinating idea: our kids have lost their ability to be creative because they don’t spend any time outside experiencing free play. It's a brilliant book- he suggests the ADHD epidemic is caused by our structuring our kids lives from sun up to sun down, and never letting kids have any free play where they make choices and deal with the outcomes. They also no long have access to wild outdoor places where kids are only bound by their own creativity. There's a whole national network of outdoor ed providers that are responding to the book to try to change the way we let kids play. Interesting stuff.

Mayberry said...

Great point. Another reason to fear NCLB and all the ridiculous testing our kids are subject to - it leaves no time for open-ended play and learning.

My work site has an interview with Louv: http://content.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=10208

Occidental Girl said...

I agree with you on this. Hoo boy, if there was a topic I could go on (and on and on) about, it's education!

Arts and music are so important, and so is reading and writing. But why, praytell, is my Kindergartner spending 15 minutes out of her scant 2 1/2 hour schoolday on "technology"?

While I think it's great for older children to use the computer at school, it is a tool. I mean, Kindergarten!

Getting outside is a good point, too. Remember The Simpson's episode where the kids went outside for once instead of playing video games, and blinked so much because they were not used to the outdoor light?

Yeah, like that...

Bob said...

Great "video" from Ken Robinson.

Lady M said...

Mike and Mayberry - thanks for sharing the info on Louv's book. I've heard of it before, but I'm in a better place to appreciate it now.

Bon and Occidental Girl- For all that everyone claims education is so important, it'd odd how it gets implemented, doesn't it!

Dad - thanks for supporting both our academic and artistic endeavours!