Passion, Creativity, and Grandchildren: Redefining Education (Encouragement: Creativity II)

(Mike DePung — Post 95–17)

Encouragement: Creativity (II). There are two parts?! Really?! How much could anyone possibly write about creativity? Volumes upon volumes, because creativity is part of the makeup, the constitution, essence of a human being. Everyone.

I mentioned this morning that we have been blessed with another granddaughter. When I held her earlier today, savoring that sweet pure infant scent, watching her little covered hands flailing, her little mouth sucking, just beginning to sense her way in this world, I wondered about her life journey. I quietly blessed her, that she would grow up with the knowledge of her own Heart always being there and that she will discern that and experience the joys of living in this physical world with minimal Ego distractions. And I thought of how creative children are from a very young age.

I have seen their inventiveness and ingenuity in my own children and grandchildren as well as many others. In education, I observed younger students. Brilliant, curious, meaning-making kids. Kids who can use building blocks and balls and dolls and tools for things adults never do. And most adults overlook such genius — because Ego expectations have conditioned them to think in set society expectations about common objects. How does this happen? In large part it occurs when formal education begins, from preschool through college, including doctoral programs. I know. I saw it.

I taught from seventh through twelfth grades, and I saw something else in the several thousand students I have had over the course of twenty-three years in education. Middle schoolers were much more creative, innovative, and curious than high school students, especially seniors. Don’t misunderstand me: I valued, cared for, and sought to evoke the greatness from any student I was privileged to have in my class.

What do I mean, then? That when I helped students develop their own curriculum, the younger ones engaged with enthusiasm and produced work that I still remember years later. Eventually, seniors would work, but not all and most not with the same enthusiasm. Of course, exceptions occurred. However, the longer I was in the public school system that dove headlong and increasingly deeper into the standardization crazy pool, the worse it got.

The last year I did the emergent curriculum with seniors was the last year because of the response I received. Three of my six classes actually, in one version or another, told me, “Mr. DePung, we really enjoy your class and the things you teach us. Just tell us what we need to know.” If you are an educator and think that’s okay, either learn or quit. It is not okay. They did not have the intrinsic motivation to learn on their own.

Sir Ken Robinson has written extensively on creativity, having been an educator and holding a doctoral degree. He also has one of the most viewed TED Talks in all of their history. He knows whereof he writes, and he says this: “Creativity is as important as literacy.” If anyone can read but they cannot develop passion about what they read, if they cannot connect their passions to other things they have read, then they cannot create new knowledge. Education should be about creating new knowledge. It should not be about absorbing old knowledge and being tested on it. Tests are pretty much worthless. Creation is everything, because we are creators.

Ego squashes that because Ego says conform, in virtually everything on a societal scale. Educational institutions provide pristine material for studying Ego operating on a corporate level — well, not as excellent as politics, but those politicians were all programmed in school. Fortunately, many people awaken to the greatness of Heart and creativity of core Self, but we live in society and should be aware.

Robinson calls for a transformation of education. I’m not sure if I dilate his idea or constrict it when I claim education needs to be redefined. It is not about inputting knowledge. It should be about pulling out the essence of an individual, evoking all that brilliance within each one from birth.

That means education should include environments in which students may engage in discovering Self and following and developing passions they entertain. Robinson says this in his excellent work, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything: “The key to this transformation is not to standardize eduction, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovery of the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.” Do you hear that, those of you who are deceived policy-makers? Standardization is not education, no matter what words or frameworks you use to veil it.

Yes, methods exist to implement such ideas. I want my grandchildren to experience education as a process of creating knowledge, of developing creativity in any passion they choose to follow. I don’t know where their formal education will be, but I know what their grandfather will be doing in the time he spends with them.

And I would encourage you to do what I have done. Watch the babies, the toddlers, the preschoolers. Re-learn what on the spot passion does: it creates focus and innovation. And then you may be able to understand what a real educator should be doing.

Blessings, and remember to make connections with the knowledge you collect, and create something new, something that only you can offer to the rest of us for further blessing.

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Michael DePung

Explore. Discover. Collect. Connect. Create. Love. I write these things to experience and express Spirit here. How do you do Life? Contact: mdepung@gmail.com