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Sharing Some Beauty


I must confess I am a bit turned off by all the talk about “tough standards.” I am all for high expectations, but I became a teacher to share joy and creativity with students, not to be a taskmaster. Sometimes a bit of tough love is needed, but how can we get back to the real basics, the joy of learning something new? My colleague (and music teacher) Nancy Flanagan wrote recently about the value of creativity.

Even without a randomized trial evaluating the precise measurable impact of strategies designed to expand thinking-- isn't it worth the attempt to create an environment where the hatching of new ideas is nurtured, and kids' brains get to go out and play?

This seems ever so much more urgent these days, now that the ways we are accustomed to doing things seem to be leading us off a cliff. Einstein once said “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” We need new ways of thinking, and the only way we will get them is to unleash the creativity of our students.

Today I offer some images from my own day of play. I joined my friend environmental artist Zach Pine, on Stinson Beach in Marin County. He hosted a special Earth Day art event, which was attended by scores of people. Zach taught us to make spheres of sand, which can be placed in the environment, where they look very cool. Other people used objects from the beach or nearby hillside to create their sculptures. Zach works with a group called the Children in Nature Collaborative, devoted to expanding opportunities for children to explore and play in the outdoors.

Here are some more photos from today’s event (click to enlarge):




One more quote from Einstein. "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."

What do you do to bring out the creative side of your students? What do you think the role of creativity is in the 21st century classroom?


How I wish I was able to have my students out doing what you were. We were stuck indoors taking Ohio Achievement tests. How much more beneficial for their learning would this activity have been? Real life learning experiences make for much more meaningful assessment which would give the state more accurate data about what my students actually know.

I don't agree with tough standards myself. I'm a firm believer in high expectations. In my classroom I have high expectations for each and everyone of my students. Always making sure that these are within reach. It's easy to lose focus sometimes with all the rules and regulations in place. I always remind myself that students are no different then I am. If it's interesting, I'll want to participate, if not, then I don't care to be there. Motivation for us is no different then it should be for the learner.

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