Speaking to Teachers

When preparing to give a presentation to teachers, I shivered a bit.  I wasn’t really a favorite student of most of the teachers I had. This is because; I was one of THOSE students. The one who gazed out the window, lost in my own thoughts. The one who didn’t know the answer to the question the teacher just asked me. Heck, I didn’t even know the topic the teacher was talking about. I was that kid visiting at the back of the class. And when the bell rang and the teacher said, “Hand in the assignment tomorrow,” I said to my neighbor in a panicked voice, “What assignment?” If you’re a teacher, I know you’ve had those children in your classes… and some of you even had me. I apologize.

Thinking of this, led me to think about an organization I worked for called Home Town Competitiveness. With them, I worked with Entrepreneurs. What I learned at that time was I had all of the symptoms of an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurial personalities are often bored in school, and it seems as though they are always trying to break the rules. If you research creative personalities, they are nearly one in the same. There’s even a name for it. Divergent thinking.

To prepare for the presentation I did some research. I typed “Teaching Creativity” in the search bar of Google and came up with Divergent /Convergent thinking, 21st Century Learning, and the name of a man it seemed I needed to know more about… Sir Ken Robinson. I learned that he is an international advisor on education in the arts. I listened to a TED talk he gave and found I agreed with what he said, and I also found a wonderful story I could relate to.

The story he told is about a girl in the ‘30s, Gillian Lynn. Gillian was one of those children who fidgeted in her seat and couldn’t focus on the teacher’s instruction. She disrupted the class and gave the teacher fits. Her mother and teachers thought she had a learning disability, but at that time they had no name for it. The principal called the girl’s mother in and the mother, principal, and Gillian sat in his office and discussed her “problem.” After their discussion, the principal told Gillian that he needed to speak to her mother in private. Before the Principal and the mother left Gillian alone in his office, the Principal turned on his radio. When they got into the hall, he told the mother to watch her daughter through the window to his office. What they saw was Gillian dancing around to the music. The Principal told the mother, “Your daughter doesn’t have a learning disability. She’s just a dancer.” He instructed her to take her daughter to a dance school. Her mother did and Gillian said it was the most wonderful moment in her life—to meet other children just like herself. Children who needed to move to learn.

Ken Robinson went on to say that all children start out with a desire to dance… a desire to be creative. But our school systems teach it out of children. We focus on the things at the top of the education hierarchy. Math, Language, Science. His recommendation is that we must encourage creative thinking in all areas to glean new ideas. He talks about how children are willing to try things and don’t worry about being right or wrong. But as we go through school, we’re trained to not be wrong. But he says, If we’re not prepared to be wrong, we’ll never come up with anything original.

Gillian Lynn went on to become a famous dancer and choreographer. She met Andrew Lloyd Weber and choreographed Cats and Phantom of the Opera. She is famous in the world of dance and a multi-millionaire—all because one person in her youth didn’t just say, “You have a problem, sit down and be quiet.” Instead they encouraged her talent.

I love that story because I can relate to it. Just like those entrepreneurial personalities I worked with in HTC probably could relate to it. I didn’t think I was good in school because what I was good at, wasn’t as highly valued as what society said I was supposed to be good at.

My next blog will talk about being a Change-Maker.


14 thoughts on “Speaking to Teachers

  1. lucy adkins says:

    Creativity is inside us–and wants to come out. Thanks for reminding us of this, Gina.
    And thanks for the great story, which is so encouraging. We need to keep on keeping on–and remember to dance to the music–in whatever form it takes for us!

  2. Such a good post. I wish the school system did more to promote all types of learning. We’d have more motivated children if all the facets of learning were valued instead of just right brain skills.

  3. What a wonderful story. Lynn’s elementary school principal was ahead of his times. How wonderful he had the wisdom to realize the girl would better learn in a different environment, one more suited to her psyche. If only all children could find an educational home that best suited their needs.

    • ginabarlean@gmail.com says:

      I believe the basis system of education is giving this a serious look. It takes a lot to change the machine that is education. I’m glad people are talking about it.

  4. How important art and creativity are for children! When schools program for art education, all areas of learning flourish. Nurturing creativity and wonder improves learning in math and science as well and keeps students motivated. I appreciate your insightful comments very much, Gina.

    • ginabarlean@gmail.com says:

      Thank you, Becky! I’m glad to hear a Doctor of Education agree. I think many teachers agree. I just think they’re hands are tied by what’s expected of them and how incredibly overworked they are. Teachers are amazing people.

  5. Excellent post. All of us who struggled in school can relate. The Millionaire Next Door and The Millionaire Mind by Thomas J Stanley document how the average grade for millionaires throughout their formal education was a C. Compliant students can be quite successful. I fear though, that compliance squelches the creative genius unique to all of us. Too bad that dreams can be vanquished at such an early age.

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