Monday, February 17, 2014

Creativity + Diverse Perspectives = Deeper Education

When one considers the word creative, it’s easy to think of the arts. After all, what is more creative than the expression one gives to her work with a musical instrument, including her voice, a photograph, sculpture, or painting, or the way an actress embodies on stage? In English, one can be creative through a work of prose or poetry.  Creativity can be found in every subject area. Thinking outside-of-the-box involves a creative approach to problem-solving. 

As teachers, creativity is found in the way we plan and execute our lessons. It is also found in the way we collaborate as faculty. One of the most enriching and creative means of professional development I have been engaged with occurred over the last two years. Through the facilitation of Renee Hawkins, Director of Instructional Technology at Garrison Forest School, we had three teams of faculty working with the organization Powerful Learning Practice. These teams were not organized around a single discipline or division but rather across them. By spending time together working on similar goals, we learned a great deal about each other, about the students we teach at each level, about our subject areas, and about our approaches. We pushed ourselves out of the “silos” of our teaching areas and united our collective energy, enthusiasm, intellect, and curiosity together toward learning that enriched all of us.
Then, we shared what we learned with our colleagues both formally in professional development days and informally through conversations and meetings times that we created to discuss new ideas.

We have embraced the kind of sharing that not only helps education grow deeper and broader, it helps create new products. In a story aired on National Public Radio in January celebrating the 30th anniversary of the first Apple Mac products, the story described a design team which included a medical doctor, musician, “self-educated drop-out”, artist, archaeologist, as well as computer experts. As the current Apple CEO, Tim Cook noted, “We define diversity with a big D…. It's not just the traditional measures of diversity, which are incredibly important, but also diversity of thought.” (Morning Edition)

At Garrison Forest School, we embrace diversity in all respects, including a diversity of thought and experience. Each person’s experience, expertise, and perspective adds to our learning and growth. Opening ourselves to each other’s creative approaches and views enriches us.