Conversely, not knowing that predetermined, narrow band of “stuff” on the test, doesn’t equal stupid. In reality, creativity is at the very core of intelligence. The incomparable power to look beyond the tangible to seemingly conjure solutions from thin air (and available resources) is, indeed, the very essence of brilliance.
Our culture would have us believe the opposite by rewarding obedience, memorization skills, and conformity, all the while secretly admiring (and exclaiming over) the talented folks who are bravely moving society forward with pure imagination and guts.
Innate curiosity, as well as necessity, are the mother of invention. This is the reason all young children (and kittens) love cardboard boxes. In their minds, those cartons can become anything they want them to be. Which is why, beyond time in nature (with a variety of vegetation, rocks, animals, weather, water, and, yes, mud puddles) and access to a stash of books, the only resources kids (and teens) require to create anything, is an unending supply of paper and cardboard, crayons, pencils, or markers, scissors, glue and tape, an open invitation to plunder the recycling bin, as well as the support and permission from their adults to have fun and get messy.
If you have had the pleasure of spending any time with them, you know that children learn to question their world and solve problems through play, which, in turn, at its heart, is the basis for all experimentation. Sadly, those natural inclinations are denigrated and ultimately not recognized by established, mainstream, pedagogical experts as valid methods of inquiry or for gaining essential skills in the modern world. They would have us believe that children will only learn if they (the experts) create the “lesson” or curriculum. All those extremely popular STEM and STEAM activities are nothing more than pre-designed pablum with set rules and results, with no room for originality. Let’s be totally honest here, they don’t (won’t) provide space for imagination or individuality, because then there will be messes, surprises, chaos, as well as a few disasters that cannot be corralled, controlled, or easily cleaned up.
As a result of their personal experiences, in this stifling environment, kids either develop a fear of trying new things because they are afraid of messing up, they earn the “lazy” label because they have learned exactly what is needed to satisfy the authority figures and do nothing beyond, or they are branded as oppositional when they refuse to do something they feel is not beneficial or pertinent for them. Which is, tragically, why, I end up with many apathetic, bored kids at DRC who have lost that natural desire and ability to play, create, and explore.
I want to be very clear, a talent for following instructions, coloring inside the metaphorical lines (and, staying confined within a predetermined box), as well as having a bank of memorized and stored knowledge that helps win trivia contests and score high on standardized tests is absolutely useless in the real world, without the desire and ability to imagine, invent, experiment, and manifest new ideas.
This is why all of my mentoring sessions consistently contain multiple versions of this message: Go - Play! We expect you to make mistakes, get messy, investigate, build, demolish and construct again, hack your education and life, make choices that are good for you, as long as you remember to be kind and compassionate to others, and, please, please, please clean-up after yourself. We will always have your back, while you re-discover your authentic, imaginative, creative, over the top, brilliant self.
Thank you to all the peeps who came out to the Kid Expo and made some cool stuff at our art table. It was a pleasure to meet you all.
We are still in the process of settling into out new home. (Moving in November, in the NoCo, is not conducive to completing outside projects!) We are discovering that we need a few things for our new home. If you have any of the following you would be willing to
donate, please get in touch:
_ a dehumidifier for the cellar
- a shop vac that will vacuum up water
- outdoor furniture for the porch and for the backyard
- shovels for digging dirt
- trowels and other gardening tools
- handsaws for cutting small limbs
We are also looking for folks with carpentry and gardening skills to volunteer their time to facilitate some of the projects our kids are interested in taking on.
We also need someone with a truck who would be willing to take a load of trash (old carpet, etc) to the transfer station. (We will pay the dumping fee.)