I am thinking a lot about what I want to see happen with my creative spark. I know that it has something big to do with education and my reformist beliefs.
In my heart of hearts I have a deep resentment for the factory system of education that we all grew up with. The system that negates individuality and makes those that are “different” feel bad for being who they are. I call bullshit.
I somehow just came across Seth Godin. I don’t know where I was, I guess stuck in the micro climate of my own life, my own story, my own experience. But listening to the Podcast that Cathy Heller does called “Don’t Keep Your Day Job,” and her featured interview with Seth just a few weeks ago BLEW ME AWAY. He is amazing! Cathy is amazing!
I want to share the influence.
Cathy Heller’s website and podcast
Seth Godin’s Podcast and Seth Godin’s Blog
WOW. One of Seth’s recent podcasts on Akimbo, his podcast name, was called “I See You,” and he talked a lot about the system of education. It was exactly what I was talking about in my blog post They are Bored to Tears.
It blew me away to hear someone as hugely successful as Seth Godin talk about what has always bugged me. What the hell are we doing to children in America? Why don’t let accept that we are ALL DIFFERENT, and that there is no “average” and that we deserve the education that speaks to the brilliance and loveliness of our individuality? Why do we as educators get so bent out of shape when a student “doesn’t fit.” Or is “different?”
When I was getting my first graduate degree, I read a lot about reforming education. My Master’s Degree was in Creative Arts Education. The focus was on inter-disciplinary arts. We were actors, dancers, musicians, visual artists. It was a huge pool of collaborative soup. It was the most alive moment in my educational experience so far. OH to go back and relive that time. Piper was 1 1/2 when my program started, and when it ended she was 3 1/2 and I was pregnant with her brother. The freedom in that program to be my own self, whatever that was, and to write the perfectly imperfect thesis I wrote-thank you, thank you God for letting that happen for me.
In this program I was learning about creative arts, and I was soaking in the ideas of change and reformation. At the time I thought I was going to create an arts organization non-profit. I was going to go out and create a space that allowed for children and adults to be their own real selves. Then I got stuck on the reality of what the work to create an art center would entail.
For a time in grad school I worked with a fledgling arts organization called Art Bus. They brought art classes and materials to neighborhoods where they were needed. They did not have a bus yet. And this being 1998, things took longer to get going than they take now when everyone has what I call a “magic phone,” and a laptop connected to the world wide web. For the 2018 crowd-smart phones and internet.
I ended up working for Art Bus as an art educator at a family homeless shelter in San Francisco in the Haight. I thought I would be teaching art classes, that is what I thought the job would entail. What I ended up doing was creating migratory homes and little “playhouses” for children that didn’t actually have homes. Each week when I arrived we played and made forts and used blankets and sleeping bags and cardboard refrigerator boxes to make homes. I had homeless parents and grandparents take me aside and tell me how grateful they were that I was able to provide their children with the experience of security in their insecure world.
I had no idea how to deal with that.
When I was in my graduate school classes we talked a lot about Paulo Freire and the Pedagogy of the Oppressed. We studied how the teacher must become the learner in order to really teach. What I learned from the experience at the shelter and my whole graduate program is that we can never assume what the experience of learning will be. We can make predictions, but we don’t know until we are in it. We must stay open and willing to learn.
That is a great way to live our lives. Stay open. Be willing to learn.