by Lee Collver-Richards
Sir Ken Robinson (“Out of Our Minds”, 2011, p. 147) says “Human intelligence is not just a process of perception but of selection. We see the world not as it is, but through a veil of conceptions.” We are all born as whole and complete, complex beings with a hundred different languages, inventions, ways of being, knowing, and expressing (* p. 259) As we grow, evolve, change, our curiosity and wonder -about the world we inhabit and the universes beyond – are meant to be never-ending. Yet, statistics – based on fact – our world does not represent that which is a majority.
As adults, we can continue that ineffable joy of creativity we knew as a child before trauma, neglect, abuse. There are ways we can shift past blocks to health, happiness, & prosperity. It begins with “The Beginner’s Mind”. My happiest, most productive, school years in public education were when I focused on myself first, my learning first. I found it when I allow the acquisition of knowledge to be a bi-product, not end-product, of my focused mind guided by curiosity and resonating in the humble acceptance that I don’t “know”, anything and I am ready to learn. While, recognizing at the same time, that everything and everyone have that same potential to spark the inner seeds of curiosity to sprouting, connecting, and building vast interconnected networks of new and old knowledge, building forests of learning power (intelligence) within our body/mind which enable creative production of bodies of work without Holy Macheral! If you can read that sentence out loud with conviction first time, then, you’ve got it.
Until, the acculturation process. Until that conditioning to a “sameness” mentality, through the languages, the environments, the circumstances, the families, and the schools we are often “boxed” into, we experience life as an infinite, yet humble, power-station of creativity. Yes, we have the unique shape, size, and functionality of our individual bodies. Yes, we are born to specific family dynamics, DNA, and histories. But those are not limitations, even though we may be socially conditioned to believe they are. Rather, they are a rainbow of expressions dancing together and alone in joyful symphonies of sensual pleasures.
What happens to all that joy of creating in excited splendor? Conformity replaces creativity. Inculcation replaces our imagination. Indoctrination replaces questioning. Boredom and apathy take over, turning the ease of learning into the drudgery of a dreaded chore. Judgements of not being “good enough”, “not measuring up” to an arcane standard no human, or divinity for that matter, can meet. “What did you learn in school today?” “I don’t know.” “Well, what did you do in school today, then?” Nothing.” Conversation’s over before anybody expressed what’s alive in either. Distances build. Those precious sparks of innocent wonder, snuffed out before the fires have a chance to start. Turning the joys of childhood for both adult and child, into fear filled, tedious, often angry relationships of separation, isolation, and even disease.
I believe, as so many researchers, scholars, philosophers, and artists including Sir Ken Robinson (2011), that we have got to change the ways we perceive our children, treat our children, and teach them differently. Unless we choose to approach our learning and the teaching of our children differently, what so many adults in the modern world seem to lose by our late teens early 20’s, children of today are losing before they even reach 3rd grade. Children in stress-filled environments even sooner.
Ponder that heavy concept for just a moment. That means their entire childhood experience is vanished before they can experience it. To create, their unique way, the foundations, the resilience, the self-confidence that learning is fun and a challenge of epic proportions to meet with joy, wonder, and excitement. Have you ever met a 7-year old who thinks they know everything and their lights have gone out? It’s one of the saddest, loneliest places I’ve ever witnessed. I am exploring these different models of education, filled with play, creativity, and a connection between all learners – adult and child – built on trust and shared inquiry. I can’t do it alone. Let’s explore these concepts together. Let’s begin to do the uncommon. Let’s learn with our heads, practice with our hands, know it by heart (Church, 2018) and transform our education structures and systems to support all our schools WITH the children of today, now!
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
*Cagliari, P., Castagnetti, M., Giudici, Cl, Rinaldi, C., Vecchi, V., & Moss, P. (2016). Loris Malaguzzi and the schools of reggio emilia: A selection of his writings and speeches, 1945-1993. Oxon, U.K.: Routledge
Church, D. (2018). Mind to matter: The astonishing science of how your brain creates material reality. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc.
Collver-Richards, L. (2019). The Melrose experiment: Imagining all the people. Morro Bay, CA: Hummingbird Communications
Robinson, K. (2011). Out of our minds: Learning to be creative. West Sussex, U.K.: Capstone Publishing Ltd., A Wiley Company