Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Something to Consider ...


“WHEN YOU ARE A KID you have your own language, and unlike French or Spanish or whatever you start learning in fourth grade, this one you’re born with, and eventually lose. Everyone under the age of seven is fluent in Ifspeak; go hang around with someone under three feet tall and you’ll see. What if a giant funnelweb spider crawled out of that hole over your head and bit you on the neck? What if the only antidote for venom was locked up in a vault on the top of a mountain? What if you lived through the bite, but could only move your eyelids and blink out an alphabet? It doesn’t really matter how far you go; the point is that it’s a world of possibility. Kids think with their brains cracked wide open; becoming an adult, I’ve decided, is only a slow sewing shut.”
- Jodi Picoult,
My Sister’s Keeper

I have just finished reading this book by Jodi Picoult and I made a note to remember this quote from the novel. I wanted to share it with other teachers so it’s a good thing that I have this blog to do so!

I found so much truth in this quote and also found it sort of sad. It reminded me about how children aren’t afraid to take chances and will often throw many creative ideas at you. As we get older, that seems to stop. Do we feel as though we are too old for Ifspeak? Do we realize more about the world and forget we once had limitless imaginations?

Teachers of all grade levels should encourage creative thoughts and establish a classroom environment in which students should feel comfortable to take risks. For some reason, students in older grades are so afraid of giving a wrong answer or getting made fun of for an idea that some truly amazing thoughts may not be escaping. This would definitely be a challenge to overcome – especially with middle and high school students. This is just something to think about as future teachers and also as adults who should remember that we can still be imaginative and creative! The great thing about being an educator is that those qualities only add to the effectiveness of our practice.


  1. I completely agree that as we get older we think creative thinking is a waste of time or that we can't necessarily do it because of our age. I have heard somewhere that education completley takes creativeness out of the children because we only accept one right answer. It is sad to me that our education system something that we have created to better and further our students may actually be hindering them. I know I am not creative, but to watch little kids go from being super creative and playing tons of make believe games to being bored all the time makes me really sad!

    I wonder how much outside of the box thinking we are missing out because of our current focus in education???

  2. Making mistakes is an important part of learning. This is only true if mistakes are not seen as mistakes but as learning opportunities.

    An example of learning from mistakes is the process approach to writing, which suggests that writing is a process that involves many editions. Sure the first copy may be filled with creative spelling, interesting grammar, or story continuity right out of a B grade sci-fi flick. But how else do we know what to improve without making mistakes? By making those “mistakes” and learning from them, not only is the writing better, but so is the writer.

    Embrace mistakes, may be even do away with the term mistake and call it learning, and children will be willing to take risks. When I instruct skiing, I have an “award” for the wipe out of the day. I don’t intentionally try to make my clients wipe out, but if they do then that’s great. Wipe outs are often harmless and, frankly, quite hilarious. I need to say that at this point in time I have never had any serious injuries during a lesson. If the client can explain why they wiped out that’s great. If the client can remember how the skiing felt before the wipe out, that’s even better. Hopefully, they will take that feeling and avoid it in the future. As oversimplified as that explanation of teaching people to ski is, the main message is falling down is part of learning. Some of my fellow skiers argue that if you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough.

    It is sad to think that education my take away not only a child’s Ifspeak, but also his/her willingness to take risks.

  3. It really is something to consider!

    Working with the kids that I do outside of school they are able to play, make up games, create, draw, and just go plain crazy - as far as us adults are concerned. I notice myself and my colleagues chasing after them, often saying "No! That is unacceptable!" Or if they are showing us a craft its just an automatic "Oh wow that's nice" without asking them to explain what THEY see.

    Socialization. Its such a tug and pull concept. Its important for us to socialize the next generation so that they can fit into our world of acceptable behaviours. In doing so though, we are killing a lot of who they are internally and creatively. Isn't it interesting that often times the misfits are the geniuses? For example Albert Einstein.

    My question is, where is the happy medium of allowing creative thinking and having children behave in a desirable manner?

  4. I mostly hang with science fiction and children's authors, and most of them are very childlike in that they have not lost their 'sense of wonder'. They ask the 'If' question all the time, and out come the crazy ideas that make their books. And it drives most of the adults around them completely crazy. most people are too busy thinking about their mortgage to wonder what is happening on the star third from the left, and they look at you very funny if you ask them a bunch of 'if' questions. (Try it some time to see what I mean.) But you do not have to lose your childlike awe if you don't want to. I've been on maybe a thousand planes over my life time, but everytime I get on one, I still think, "Wow, this hunk of lead is actually going to fly!" and I am in goshwow mode the entire time, while all the businessmen around me are just bored out of their minds. But stuff is boring only if you want it to be.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.