Make Time To Think

18 Mar

A few years ago, one of Neve’s classroom themes at school was ‘Environmental Issues’. She had chosen to look at pollution, specifically pollution of the world’s oceans. It was a big issue for a little kid but she got to work.

One of her first tasks was to make a model so she started a diorama, rather unenthusiastically I might add. She printed off pictures from the web to use as her background, grabbed a shoebox and started making a 3D fish. Next day at school, her diorama was replicated many times over. She brought it back home that afternoon and told me the sad tale. Someone even had the same background as her!! She paced around a bit and tried to make me responsible for inventing a new idea for her model. When that didn’t work, she announced rather dramatically that she was off to her room to think. She even made a sign for the door. It read, ‘Do not disturb. I am thinking!’ Complete with exclamation mark. Her big sister rolled her eyes dramatically. ‘Totally random,” she said, pointing to the handwritten sign as she walked past the door. Finally the door swung open and with arms full of materials, she screamed that she had an idea. ‘It’s an original,’ she beamed. She had found a small round globe of the world about 15cm wide and this was to become the body of her fish. She had plans to attach fins, eyes and a tail with invisible tape. Bubbles coming from the fish’s mouth would tell the story of how pollution was affecting its watery world and its survival. It was simple. It was effective. And best of all, it really was original. She got to work. She was committed to the task and totally ‘in the moment’. When it was finished, she lay the fish out proudly on the table, ready for the next day.

When I sat down later that night, I looked carefully at this model. Creativity is about making interesting or unusual connections. Making the inspired connection between the fish’s body and the world globe was a winner. But what stood out when I looked at that fish, was the fact that this kid knows that to come up with an idea, you need to make time to think. You need to give attention to this stage of the process. I wrote it down that night in my journal – in bold letters – MAKE TIME TO THINK. I asked her the next day what she did when she was thinking. ‘Ah nothing,’ she said, ‘I just thought about stuff and moved my eyes carefully around the room. And then I saw the globe’.

In my last job, I travelled to many schools and would often see a sign on classroom doors that read, ‘Please don’t disturb us – we are reading silently’. Now I long to see a sign that reads, ‘Don’t disturb us – We are making connections. We are pondering ideas. We are thinking!’ Perhaps we need to give kids time to play and chase ideas before they get started on a piece of work.

So in the spirit of fostering creativity in our students, make a cuppa and enjoy this great link from Sir Ken Robinson.
Sir Ken Robinson – Do schools kill creativity?

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