Mind, Brain and Education
Today I attended one of many events at the museum, a seminar entitled “Arts, Creativity & Other Outrageous Education Ideas!” This was in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins University School of Education Neuro-Education Initiative and Council on K-12 Education’s “Learning, Arts and the Brain Summit.”
Although I’m retired from teaching and this program was presented to a room full of teachers, I continue to hold an interest in learning and creativity. So I attended and I’m glad I did.
As I listened to speakers Jerome Kagan from
Intrusion of Testing and Content Alone
I can’t say that I did much of this during the last two years of my teaching career, however, because teaching by that time was confined tightly to teaching the language of the standardized tests, practicing for the real test over and over again, assessing the practice tests and then taking the tests. There just wasn’t time to do much of anything else. (You can read unorganized thoughts and rants I wrote while teaching.)
Jerome Kagan passionately made a case for teaching the arts. He spoke about cutbacks in recent years and how this has affected us as a society. He said that without the arts, “subjective feelings become subordinate to logic” and there is a “growing reluctance to anger any group.” You see, arts has to do with pushing boundaries, angering people and making us thing. Without the arts, our school children and their teachers live in a small corral with tight boundaries. This is not conducive to learning. It is not conducive to risk-taking, exploring and making new discoveries. “we’ve upset the balance between correct and intuitive.”
Kagan reminded us of the need for a vacation from the correctness and rank that has been imposed on us.
Keys Changing Hands
Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, professor of psychology at
Hirsh-Pasek listed the skills that will be needed for the future—skills and opportunities that we should be providing for students:
- critical thinking
- creative innovation
- confidence (to take risks)
Alice Wilder, producer of Nick Jr.’s Blues Clues talked about the importance of engaging children with learning and showed examples through Blues Clues, Super Why, and Think It, Ink It, an innovative approach to help children imagine and write books.
I was intrigued by Keri Smith’s talk. She spoke of her disenchantment with school, while at the same time finding creativity when she stayed home. She told of the rewards of risk taking. She shared with us excerpts from her books, Wreck This Journal and How to be an Explorer of the World—truly wild and innovative approaches to creativity. Check out her website to explore some of her ideas.
If you haven’t seen the latest exhibit at the