Friday, August 19, 2011

Sir Kenneth Robinsion on paying off the creativity deficit...

On Monday, I talked about the diminishing creativity of the American child and a local effort to do something about that.  Or at least a part of it. 

This video was recommended to me at a meeting on Monday where we were discussing what it would mean to create a community writing center on the east side of Tacoma. An under-served, under-resourced community if ever there was one.

At risk of this becoming the "TED is Cool" blog, I'm going to post two more TED videos, making it three in one week.  I trust you will bear with me.

In a 2006 TED Talk, Sir Kenneth Robinson talked about the death of creativity and the under-appreciation of the arts in a global culture that puts a higher value on skills and talents that are of use to industry whilst stripping away the parts of the child that society values less... 

This past year, Sir Kenneth returned to TED to finish his speech (as he puts it) positing a new model for learning.  Replacing a fast food model of education with an agricultural model to grow creative young minds.  He makes some fascinating points, some of them perhaps a trifle utopian.  I would certainly love to see a community that could carry this off...  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dave Eggers on Writing, Tutoring, and Pirate Supplies :: TED Talks

In reference of yesterday's post on writing tutoring and creativity...  This is a video of literary great, Dave Eggers, on the idea behind his 826 Project and how it can be applied anywhere.

I love his concept that there should be no borders real or imagined between the writing community and the students in the same community.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Imagining a world devoid of imagination :: Writing & Tutoring

A consortium of local schools ranging from the college where I work to the University of Washington-Tacoma is putting together a citywide tutoring effort focused on writing and creativity for ages 6-18. I have been asked to participate and today is the first in what will probably be a long series of meetings toward launching this effort.

This is all being done with the eventual goal of creating a chapter of the 826 Project in the south Puget Sound region.  If you remember this post from March of last year, you may recall my enthusiasm for the project and I'm looking forward to the chance to particitpate.  To 'pay forward' the opportunities afforded me by a literate upbringing.

In light of this troubling report filed by researchers at William & Mary demonstrating that children are growing less creative, I would say that this is all the more important. It seems that as schools cut art, creative writing, and music programs to make room for more lessons in taking standardized tests, the imaginations of the students are beginning to lag behind.

Go figure.

Albert Einstein warned us in the 1930's not to neglect the imagination: "I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution."  

Can you imagine a world where children have forgotten how to play? How to make up games and stories? How to imagine into the blanks between the lines of the books they read and the movies they watch?

This isn't all about the arts either. Einstein went on to add "[Imagination] is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research." And he should know. The theory of special relativity was dreamt up in a thought experiment where the man imagined what it would be like to travel alongside a beam of light. 

E=mc² was the result and the world changed thereby.

So this isn't just about Scott bemoaning the demise of schoolyard games and mud pies.

This weekend, I was speaking to an early childhood educator and she agreed with the researcher's findings. When she shows a child a drawing and asks them about it, they have trouble even understanding the concept that you can tell a story about it, that a picture is worth ten words, much less a thousand.

That is sad to me beyond belief.

The 826 Project and many independent projects like it (such as the one we are launching in Tacoma) try to step in with after school programs and enrichment activities to stoke the fires of the imagination, to give that extra poke and push that growing brains require in order to make the leap from idea to idea.

I'm not an expert on education, I'm a writer.  I don't know that this is the solution.  But it's the only solution that I can personally take a hand in, and I shall make of it all that I can.

I humbly submit that you should do likewise.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

He's tinkering with the blog again...

Sorry about the design shifts recently. 

When I set the blog to that rather austere background using a photo of some of the lead type from my collection, I'd intended to leave it like that for the forseeable future.

Then I was informed that I'm a children's author... or at least an all-ages author.

Never fear, the content of the blog won't change, just the layout and presentation.  This has never been a blog for adults only and I'm not an author who writes for only one audience and have no intention of becoming same.

Anyway, what you see as I post this isn't the final form. In the next few days, the blog layout will shift here and there as I rethink my design and layout.

Apologies in advance.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Napkins, brain cells, writers, and clowns :: PNWA Wrap-up

When I got home from the PNWA conference on Saturday night, I emptied my pockets onto the top of my dresser. The usual wallet, keys, spare change, and pen knife were buried by the wads of napkins and envelopes, each of them covered in my handwriting.

Mind you, I had a Moleskine in my jacket pocket, two legal pads in my satchel, and my laptop.

And yet, I'm overcome by a desire to scribble on napkins.

There were a lot of napkin ideas this weekend. Enough to keep me busy for awhile.