Finding Your Element

This is Day 17 of 31 of the Slice of Life Writing Challenge from Two Writing Teachers.  I have been greatly moved by the following video that was shared on Twitter this past Saturday night:

I love music and play piano.  I love to sing along on the radio and worship God through singing in my car, in my house and at church.  The fact that the community in the video uses trash to make instruments struck a chord with me.  Yes, a chord!  I saw that even when resources aren’t typical, people can create music and celebrate.  I just love that the creativity of the children in the community on the video can be expressed with their recycled instruments.  My favorite line from the video is that “My life would be worthless without music.”  The ability to express feelings in music connects us as people and is very inspirational to me.

My blog today is about how to find and nourish our passions and talents, whether that can be through music or through another outlet.  The kids who play in the Recycled Orchestra in the video above are developing their passions through music.  My hope is that in American schools and in schools across the globe, teachers can create conditions for creativity to flourish in music, in the arts, in technology, in reading, in writing, in math, in science, and in social studies.  Allowing students to apply what they know by CREATING is and should be priority ONE in my mind.

On May 9, 2013, I heard Sir Ken Robinson speak in a live video through a special event held by Discovery Education.  He published  “Finding Your Element:  How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life” on May 21, 2013 and was talking about the book.  I found his discussion of education quite interesting then as well as when I heard him through the lenses of my Twitter friends last Saturday evening.  He was the keynote speaker on Saturday night, March 15, 2014, at the ASCD Conference in California.  I felt like I was at the conference by following the #ascd14 hastag on Twitter after my father’s birthday party.  I wanted to share some of the insights that he spoke about both when I heard him speak last year and when I heard people tweet his insightful comments.  We are in the testing season at my school which make his comments all the more intriguing to me.  I have to leave my Computer Lab classroom for two weeks and take iPads to each class so that MAP Testing can occur in the Lab for our Kindergarten and First Grade students.  This two week out-of-my-room time began today.  (This is the third time that MAP Testing has occurred this year and I’ve been out and about.)  It went well because I use the iPads as content creation devices, but really speaks to the amount of time it takes to do the testing.  I realize tremendous information is gleaned from testing students, but as with anything, there must be a balance of teaching and assessment.

I have listed Sir Ken Robinson’s points from the video in bullets and my observations from  Twitter below and hope they inspire you like they have done to me:

Did you know that there was a music teacher in Liverpool in the ’50’s who had half of The Beatles in his class and he didn’t realize it?

Did you know that Elvis Presley wasn’t allowed in Glee Club because he might ruin their sound?

Erin Klein’s Tweet on Saturday night (@KleinErin):  “Creativity is not a special feature of special people, it is imagination, conversation, and how you put it to work.  -Sir Ken Robinson #ascd14”

Krissy Venosdale’s Tweet on Saturday night (@venspired):  “Nothing is inherently boring.  The true art of teaching is to find the point of entry & engage students.  SKR  #ASCD14”

  • Education is a personal process.
  • The Heart of teaching is in the process of learning.
  • The Teacher should inspire.
  • The Teacher is a mentor.
  • A teacher can engage the imagination of a child.
  • 30% of young people who start ninth grade in American don’t finish.
  • Just like we have a Climate Crisis (Ex. Global Warming), he argued that we also have a Human Crisis.  If people leave school early, their lives are not necessarily “over” (Ex. Bill Gates), however people who complete high school tend to earn more money and go on to other training.  They are less likely to be drawn into our Correctional System.  There is a high proportion of jailed people who left high school early.
  • There will be one and a half million young people who will leave High School early.
  • He argued that we must find and build upon the interests of our students to keep students from leaving school.
  • We must adapt.  Kodak didn’t adapt and go with the newer digital technological ideas such as Instagram and they are now in Bankruptcy.  There is no reason why Kodak couldn’t have survived, but they became lethargic.  They did not adapt.  Companies these days want adaptable people.
  • He suggests that we have to find our passions and work within our “element”.
  • In schools, we have a narrow view of “ability”.  Standardized testing makes us assess within specific parameters which are not bad, but they do tend to shut people off to routes of self fulfillment, especially if their strength does not lie in the subjects of the Standardized Tests.
  • Education should be personal, not about Data points and test scores.
  • Each of us has a set of interests that affect us if we get involved in education.
  • We should make education more personal, human and customized.
  • Many people don’t enjoy life because they don’t discover their talents.  Some have discovered talents and are fulfilled and are in their “element”.
  • We must realize that the definition of Creativity is “original ideas that have value”.
  • Everyone has creative aptitudes that need to be developed.
  • In a creative school, everyone should be encouraged to create and a deliberate effort should be made to develop original ideas.
  • This translates to Group work, Project Based Learning, Collaboration, Imaginative Challenges, etc.
  • Digital Technology pieces are TOOLS just like the Camera was an innovative tool when it was invented, or the Model T was a tool that changed the world.
  • These tools do not work without the creativity of people.
  • Digital tools give students access to ideas, opportunities to collaborate and open up classrooms to Individualize Education.
  • We should embrace the digital tools to transform teaching and learning.
  • Creativity is an engine to learning, not just an add on.
  • Life is lived more fully when we recognize things that make our hearts lift.  When we feel connected, then we can have compassion for others.  But first, we have to “find our TRIBE” which would be people who share common interests that align with our passions (our element).
  • Standardized testing reduces this feeling, but we can still promote social and personal purposes in our school.
  • We need to find ways to help students express their creativity.  CEO’s have a hard time finding creative people who can adapt.

2 thoughts on “Finding Your Element

  1. I think your post needs a second read from me. Bookmarking it! I need to be more awake as you share so much good information! Thank you!

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