You Bet I’m Creative!

QueticoPainting

“Sunrise in Quetico” Pastel on Board, 2008

As part of the EdCamp St. Louis Planning Team, we have taken on a blogging challenge. A new topic will come up every week, and we’ll do some cross-posting, commenting, and discussing in preparation for the big day. The idea is that we will have fodder for meaningful discussions, conversation starters when we meet face-to-face (sometimes for the first time), and for many of us (me included!) it will push us back into blogging. I know. I’m guilty. But I have been creating other things.

This week’s topic: HOW DO YOU PERSONALLY EXPRESS CREATIVITY?

How much time do you have? I don’t think there’s a limit to blog lengths.

When I entered college, I wanted to register for an art class. I’d always been making things, and my Mom had always been supportive. Until now. “Art is dessert. You are on salad,” is what she said to me when I showed her my proposed schedule. Her voice had that finality in it that defied retort. I turned around, walked away, and ended up majoring in biology.

My Entryway floor December, 2014

My Entryway floor December, 2014

When I look back, I regret that. Actually, no, I don’t regret having studied biology, after all, plants are my other obsession. I regret not sticking to my guns and pursuing art. I should be in design or a studio artist. Nothing makes my adrenaline flow like the satisfaction of making something from scratch. However, biology it was, even into graduate school. I work in a mostly non-creative field by day, and fuel my creative side on weekends. Because I have never really had any formal training, and because it’s strictly an avocation, I probably have a fairly unique outlook on creativity as an idea.

I always have to have some sort of project. I’ve taught myself calligraphy, oil painting, watercolors, pastels, pen/ink, photography, knitting, crocheting, sewing, woodworking, silversmithing, glass beadmaking, and stained glass. I love to design landscapes and interiors, and to cook. I am a huge DIY-er around the house. If it’s something that can be made from a design or pattern in my head, I’m all about it.  In fact, my first blog was an Artist’s Blog.

I don’t think creativity can be taught.  It can be nurtured, but I believe that some people are full of ideas, and others are not. What we can teach, however, is to not be scared.  The only thing that’s between the idea that’s in your head and it’s realization?  The courage to try and do.  Allow creative people to be expressive, and don’t judge those who are not.

Do you think creativity can be taught?  Comment below!

See Robert Dillon’s Creative self.

See Danielle Zuroweste’s post on personal creativity.

The Shifting Target of Creativity by Amy Peach

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EdCampSTL – My First Brush With an UNconference

Twitter Feed EdCampSTL

TRUTH:  True learning comes when you want (feel you NEED) to learn something.

TRUTH:  Collaboration takes your places you never dreamed you could go on your own.

TRUTH:  Satisfaction comes from stretching yourself, pushing boundaries, and coming away invigorated.

Today was my first EdCamp.  Apparently, they occur all over the country in large cities.  Chicago had one today, too, and the official Dallas EdCamp Twitter member checked in online.  The best part about an EdCamp?  It’s an UNconference.

An unconference at it’s beginning is just a place with meeting spaces – some are smaller and more intimate for smaller conversations, some are larger to accommodate large audiences.  There is tech support, coffee and bagels, and a roster of people who have signed up (for FREE!) to attend.  That’s it.  No keynote speaker, no multi-page handout of breakout sessions with their descriptions.  No formality of sign-up sheets and stuck-in-the-boring-meetings.

Attendees check in, have an hour or so to mingle, and (most importantly) sign up to conduct the sessions.

Signing Up to Facilitate/Present

That means (gulp!) that if no one is willing to present something they are proud of or wanting to share, then there won’t be any sessions.

Fortunately, plenty of people signed up to present.  After much internal struggle, I, too, signed up.  I figured that if I weren’t going to expand out of my comfort zone of just watching, my experience would be lacking.  And what an experience it turned out to be!  We had a great discussion of what schools will have to look like as they evolve to meet the needs of the students, the teachers, and the community.

We started with literacy.  What will it mean to be ‘literate’ in 1, 5, or 10 years?  What is the future of textbooks?  That, of course, led to a discussion on authentic lessons, what the purpose of schools will be (training for jobs?  college prep?  education as a requirement for citizenship in a democracy?).  As with all discussions, the end point was not where I expected it to be, but it was the journey that mattered.

Thanks to all who participated in my session, more thanks to the organizers of EdCampSTL, and for everyone else, I hope you are able to attend an UNconference soon.

TRUTH: Professional Development should be inspirational and meaningful on a personal level – just like education.

~Matt

Bold vs. Rogue

courtesy of m4rtin's on Flickr

I received an email today that I wish I hadn’t.

It made me think.  Obsessively.  Nonstop.

Bob Dillon (@ideaguy42), one of the organizers of the upcoming #edcampstl, an unconference on all things educational in February, posed a very interesting question:

This week, we are thinking about being BOLD and being ROGUE. What would a bold school look like? What would happen if your school went ROGUE?

THAT reminded me of a post by Will Richardson (@willrichardson) on his blog where he asked:

What qualities do “Bold Schools” share?

He posited that there are nine different characteristics: learning centered, questioning, authentic, digital, connected, literate, transparent, innovative, and provocative.

But then I got to thinking, “What would happen if we took BOLD a step further into ROGUE?”  The term ‘bold’ implies something that remains in the realm of possibilities, that there are probably even schools with these (maybe not all, but at least one) characteristics already in place.  ‘Rogue’, however, to me implies a truly out-of-the-box mindset – a situation where 99.9% of teachers, parents, and administrators would yell, “Foul!” before the idea even obtained fledgling status.

For example, a boldly collaborative school would engage the parents, the learner, the community-at-large, and a network of national or even global partners in an open environment where authentic learning takes place using real-time data.  A roguishly collaborative school would have ad-hoc learning groups, meeting anywhere anytime they wanted/could, since the learning group would be comprised of people from all over the world – not necessarily the same age, since learning would be by interest and ability.

Using the characteristics outlined in Will Richardson’s blogpost, here’s a quick rubric-style table of how I think BOLD schools would differ from ROGUE schools:

CHARACTERISTIC BOLD ROGUE
AUTHENTIC Lessons use real-time data in real-life situations.  Writing is in response to current events or current needs. Physically going outside the school to collect data, students would be involved in publishing their own science journals, literary critiques
DIGITAL Everyone has a computer; most work is done digitally.  Still internet filters and limits on some social media Everyone has a computer supplied by school and whatever else they bring in.  Free access to everything, 100% paperless
CONNECTED learners are connected with the outer world with emphasis on US connections. Learners connected with global emphasis.  No set time frames to learning because of globalization
TRANSPARENT Every student has regular correspondence with their own Learning Network. School very open to community. Every student product is available for anyone to see.  Assessment is by a committee of peers and adults.
INNOVATIVE Risk-taking is encouraged As long as no one gets killed in the process, go for it.
PROVOCATIVE leaders advocate for change in local, state, and national venues. students, teachers, and leaders advocate for global change and equality. Projects are results-oriented.
LEARNING CENTERED students and teachers promote emphasis on becoming a learner over becoming learned. Everything is questioned, and a main thread of instruction is how to constructively question and search for new meaning.
COLLABORATIVE Cross-curricular assignments/projects between students, teachers, schools No set subject-area classrooms.  Meeting spaces for ad-hoc groups depending on learning decisions/goals.
REFLECTIVE Students and teachers in regular personal reflection. Students and teachers in regular, published personal reflection with the addition of comments by others.
INCLUSIVE Everyone in the community is included in the learning process. Community members and parents are continually coming in and out of the school as instructors and assessors.

What do YOU think a ROGUE school would look like?

~Matt