Valuing Creativity

The Artdog Quote of the Week 

Finding a way to value creativity in education, in the workplace, and in life, tends to ignite joy wherever it is found. Keep searching for new ways!

IMAGE:  Many thanks to Looney Math Consulting for sharing this image. It’s one of several in their excellent article, “Honoring Creativity in the Classroom.” 

A time of new challenges–and then some

Although my children now are grown and I am no longer either teaching or enrolled as a student, this time of year has always felt like a pivot-point for me.

For most of my life, August has been the time when my family (Mom and Dad were both teachers) and I would shift from a summer of differently-structured time, to plunge back into the challenges of the new school year.

Headed back to school: What should we prepare them for?

My time at the helm of a classroom probably is over, for well or ill. But at this time of year I can’t help thinking about the challenges today’s teachers and students face. Our picture of the future is continually in motion, but the age-old job of teachers is to prepare their students for it as best they can. That’s one of the few things that hasn’t changed!

But what should teachers prepare them for?

Our immediate future contains a massive range of possibilities. Technology that seemed remote only a few years ago now is imminent. From personalized medical care based on an individual’s genome to advances in brain-computer interface technology, our picture of living, working, and learning in the 21st Century is changing rapidly.

We’re beginning to feel the effects of climate change in shifting weather patterns and greater environmental hazards, from more intense storms, more widespread flooding, and hotter, less controllable wildfires.

More intense storms are only one of the environmental hazards kids will increasingly face in the future.

The news tells us the USA has officially recovered from the Great Recession of the last decade–though some of us will never make up the lossesAutomationsome aspects of globalization, and a shifting dominance of industries in the economic sector have taken away some jobs and transformed demand for skilled labor.

Learning new skills throughout life to remain employable is a new feature of the employment scene, a trend that isn’t likely to change in the future.

Our political and social landscape has been changed by economic and demographic shiftsphilosophical polarization, and new social norms about what is and is not acceptable. The so-called “bathroom bills” that have recently targeted transgender students are only one example of the lengths laypersons with no understanding of problems sometimes try to meddle in school affairs.

As if all of that wasn’t enough of a challenge for teachers, consider that there is now literally more history to teach than there was several decades ago, and the best pedagogical standards demand the inclusion of a range of ethnic and socio-economic viewpoints, not just “old dead white guys.”

New scientific knowledge is developed every year, and a quality science education demands that teaching adjust for newly-discovered facts or risk teaching erroneous information (there’s enough of that already).

School breakfast programs provide essential nutrition for millions of kids who otherwise might come to school too distracted by hunger to learn.

Educators also are now expected to accommodate a wider array of needs than they’ve been asked to do in the past, from feeding kids breakfast and lunch so they can be alert in class, to crafting lessons for differentiated learning and individual learning styles, despite often-overcrowded classrooms due to budget shortfalls.

It all adds up to steeper challenges for teachers and school systems every year. I wish them all the best of success, and good luck.

They’re going to need it.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Apple Country Living, for the “back to school” bus-and-kids photo; to CNN, for the photo of the Plaza Towers Elementary School, after a massive tornado hit Moore, OK, in 2013; and to the Eau Claire WI Leader-Telegram for the photo of employment seekers at a local job fair. Many thanks are also due to the Kansas City Chiefs for the photo of a “Wake Up” School Breakfast spread they helped promote for National School Breakfast Week at a local middle school (this photo is from their 2016 project).

Did you have THAT teacher?

Alliteration’s a lovely thing, and the point is still valid, if you take “chalk” to mean “inspiration.”

JoyceMeyers quote on Teachers

Of course, fewer and fewer classrooms use actual chalk today. In that respect this quote is becoming an anachonism. The transition, first to whiteboards and then to smartboards, started decades ago.

But teaching has been around a lot longer than smartboards, or even books or chalkboards. The bigger, older, more universal point is what a difference a teacher can make.

Nearly everyone has had that teacher. The one who paid attention, the one who took the extra time, the one who cared. The one we never forget. We’d like to think every child has at least one of those teachers, but the sad truth is that not everyone does.

We’re starting a new school year, so everyone involved in our schools has a new chance, either to get–or to BE–that teacher. Will this be the year?

IMAGE: Many thanks to SantaBanta for this image and quote.

Awakening creative joy

Artdog Quote of the Week

It’s back-to-school season this month, and my focus now shifts to the vital importance of nurturing creativity in schools.

Einstein Quote art of teaching

I’d like to tie this month’s theme to last month’s “strength in diversity” theme. I see the two as being intertwined. We cannot be strong in our diversity unless ALL of our children receive the best possible education.

Creative connections made in schools are some of the strongest motivators. As a teacher who’s worked in both rural and urban schools, I can tell you that at-risk students who cannot find relevance in their schoolwork won’t stay. If they don’t stay, we all have failed.

But if they stay–if we engage them, intrigue them, give them interesting things to do and reasons to persevere–then the future opens up with ever more and greater possibilities and promise.

IMAGE: Many thanks to The Artful Parent for this image.