“…in consumption-intense education environments, this natural curiosity that goes hand in hand with natural intuitive/adaptive creativity quickly evolves into much more limited research practice, characterized by finding and reporting of curricular content.”
As a teacher on the edge of a shift from these “consumption-intense environments” to a more creation-intense environment, this quote spoke to what I’ve seen in my short educational career. I teach kindergarten and grade 1 and I’ve heard this age group described as sponges that suck up anything you teach them. This isn’t wrong, but it’s a narrow view. I get kids before they’ve been taught to stifle their “natural intuitive/adaptive creativity” so I think students at this age need a better metaphor that also takes into account their ability to create rather than just absorb content. Kelly describes the “consumption-intense education environments” that, sadly, are still the norm in Canadian schools, but the shift is happening and I’ve seen it start in Kindergarten. (2016)
“…teachers are constantly faced with the challenge of making remote concepts relevant to learners in attempts to advance discipline understanding.”
When I used to think of a really good and talented teacher, I pictured the teacher that every student loved because they made whatever “remote concept”, be it Ancient Egypt or Algebra, and made it intensely interesting for their students. That sounds absolutely exhausting. In the last five years that view has shifted. Now, when I think about a good and talented teacher, they are no longer even teaching “remote concepts”. Their students are following their own interests and the teacher has strong enough relationships with those students to guide them through the creative practice they’ve chosen. If the goal of school is “to advance discipline understanding”, I’ll argue that we have bigger fish to fry and better ways to do it. (Kelly, 2016)
“But really good writing is both inside and outside the garden fence. It can be a few beans but also some wild poppies, vetches, mariposa lilies, ceanothus, and some juncos and yellow jackets thrown in. It is more diverse, more interesting, more unpredictable, and engages with a much broader, deeper kind of intelligence. Its connection to wildness of language and imagination helps give it power.” p.3
This is such a beautiful passage. I feel like I’ve been to this place where one side of a fence is orderly and cultivated. The other side is wild and full of life. I’ve been there because it is my own yard. I have the part that I care for, plant vegetables and flowers, mow the lawn, care for trees, but I also have the wild part down by the river where I just walk and try not to wreck anything because it is already perfect. This was such as strong metaphor for me because I am connected to this place and I’ve written in each part of it as well. It makes me question how our surroundings can affect creativity. Are my thoughts more open when I am by the river than they are in my home? Does the interwoven “wildness” of this place create wild thoughts? (Snyder, 2000)
“Natural Language” is something I haven’t given much thought to before. I thought carefully about how language changes constantly for the first time and connected it with the call for creative practice in education. We cannot teach language in a consumption-intense educational setting because what we consume today will likely change before students even leave the school. In our K-12 school I am constantly shown the “wildly fluid slang” that makes me feel out-of-date or a very old 28 years of age. I see how language from a Youtuber filters down from the middle years and reaches my students in K/1 months later. The kids experiment all the time with language and “playful expressions.” What is the best time to observe this? Lunch time. I sit and eat like a fly on the wall as rhymes, songs, artful plays are all created by 5 and 6-year-olds. I need to find a way to not only allow that kind of time for creativity, but encourage and share it with others.
Kelly, R. (2016). Creative development: Transforming education through design thinking, innovation, and invention. Brush Education.
Snyder, G. (2000). Language goes two ways. Found in McEwen, C., & Statman, M. The alphabet of the trees: A guide to nature writing. Teachers & Writers Collaborative.