Look Off to the Side

May 30, 2016

What we see isn’t always what we get.  To reach our ultimate goals for our students, we may need to be looking at something else. 

If you talk to an airplane pilot, they will tell you that when you fly at night you don’t want to stare directly at the instruments in the cockpit.  You need to look at them off to the side to see them more clearly.  I really have no idea how our eyes and brain work that makes this true, but what I do know is that it’s almost metaphorical of how we often achieve one goal when we are aiming for another. 

 

Most people agree we want our children to be academically prepared to compete in a global society.  But in our focus on the basics, we are sadly missing the development of the ultimate basic, creativity. Researchers from the countries whose test scores we envy come to study our educational system.  They are on a search to identify pedagogical elements that make us known for being innovation leaders.  These countries recognize that the world economy is rewarding what people can do now, not what they know anymore.  Google wins. It knows everything.

 

We are all creative. The question is, do we use our creativity or not? Creativity is the ability to connect the seemingly unconnected, whether that is elements of art, ideas, words or anything else. 

 

One of the greatest talents our youngest students come full of is the gifts of imagination and fantasy.  As educators, understanding and developing an appreciation for these abilities can lead us to success with ready, 21st century leaders.  Keeping our focus resting off to the side in a friendly and persistent way on opportunities to nurture and extend imaginative play will reward us tremendously. Our children’s subconscious will begin to creatively link all the basics with new and innovative ideas.

 

The hand can only achieve what the mind has first conceived.  Every accomplishment in life begins with a creative thought.  The outfit we put together, the way we decorate our home – each began as a creative thought.  Architecture, businesses, music, books, art, inventions, and medical discoveries – all began in someone’s creative mind.  And it isn’t only great things. It’s ALL things big and small. 

As we pilot our students into the future, let’s try to look off to the side a bit and encourage creativity.  Often.  And early. 

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Training Spotlight

1st-3rd grade educators worked together to learn engaging ways to develop number sense. Students will develop fact fluency while playing games that use their number sense strategies. By learning their facts in this way, students are not merely memorizing, but rather learning to work with numbers flexibly.  “Low achievers are often low achievers not because they know less but because they don’t use numbers flexibly – they have been set on the wrong path, often from an early age, of trying to memorize methods instead of interacting with numbers flexibly.” Jo Boaler,  Stanford University, 2009

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