Post from March, 2018

Do Your Chores

Monday, 26. March 2018 1:14

Last week a commencement address by Admiral William H. McRaven appeared on my Facebook feed. The sound was off but I did watch the closed captions for a few moments. McRaven suggested that we should begin every day by making our beds. His reasons were many and included accomplishing the first task of the day which sets us up to accomplish even more during the day; he also talked about the feeling of satisfaction when you come back to the made bed at the end of the day.

Some of what McRaven had to say resonated with me; I am a bed-maker, but not necessarily for the same reasons. I have not always been a bed-maker; it is something I evolved into. And certainly I would cast no disrespect on those who are not bed-makers; in fact, some of my best friends are not bed-makers. They just don’t see the importance of it.

For me, it’s just one of the many chores I do during the week. It goes along with vacuuming, and cleaning the kitchen and working in the yard and all those mindless tasks that one does during to week to “keep things up.” Those chores have value, and not just the value of “accomplishing a task” or making the environment a little neater. The value is in the mindlessness of these tasks.

It’s essentially down time, a time when the mind can run free, a time when creativity can happen. Like many who work in the arts, down time is when ideas appear. It’s a time when the conscious mind is occupied on the—usually manual—task at hand; occupied, but not very deeply. It’s a perfect time for the subconscious to whisper ideas and suggestions to that consciousness. The things that get whispered might be solutions to ongoing creative conundrums, or “brand new” ideas, or new approaches to older problems.

And those of us who make no room for down time are likely to find ourselves burned out. Down time is necessary. Every artist needs some down time, usually every day.

Some artists have found a variety of ways to create down time. For example, some artists walk; this is true of Wallace Stevens, Thoreau, Ingmar Bergman, Austin Kleon, just to mention a few. Some artists get their ideas from dreams. Some meditate. Others find that the shower it the place where ideas can be found. The list could go on, but what all of these things have in common is that the artist is occupied doing something, usually physical, and the artist is not actively creating or developing ideas. Given the importance of downtime, many artists try to make such time a part of their daily routine.

But some of us have very little time in our schedules for meditation or walking. But how can we possibly work that into our schedules? Well, there are also showers and dreams, but dreams have proven unreliable and showers don’t work for everyone.

There is yet one other solution: we can do our chores. This (usually) makes our environment just a little more pleasant, and at the same time provides time for our creative minds to idle and listen to what’s going on subconsciously. And if new ideas don’t come every time, we will at least have given our creative minds a little rest, which can only make our work better.

Category:Creativity | Comment (0) | Author:

STEAM

Monday, 12. March 2018 0:59

Sometimes two seemingly unrelated things come together and form a completely unexpected blog post. That happened to me this week. Like most Americans, I have been reading about the #NeverAgain leaders, the survivors of the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland FL. What comes up again and again is how passionate and articulate these young people are—to the point of having been accused of being paid “crisis actors.” The second thing that happened was a discussion of some ongoing issues in Houston Independent School District and what that meant for English teachers; a part of this discussion was the current emphasis on STEM education. STEM, for those who don’t know, means “educating students in four specific disciplines—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—in an interdisciplinary and applied approach.”

The emphasis on STEM education, which began in earnest with a federal government initiative 2009, is to meet a perceived need: filling the great number of STEM-related jobs that are anticipated in the very near future. Once again, US public education reconfigures itself to prepare workers, not necessarily thinkers. At the same time public educations budgets are stretched and trimmed, in many cases cutting out all enrichment programs and many extracurricular activities that do not directly support the educational fad du jour.

This is not the sort of education that the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School received. It turns out that the school has significant resources and an affluent student body. It also turns out that Broward County Public Schools, of which Marjory Stoneman Douglas is a part has a “system-wide debate program that teaches extemporaneous speaking from an early age.” And it happens that the state of Florida has a very successful civics program that reaches down into middle school. Not only that, but the student leaders who have spoken so forcefully and eloquently beneficiaries of extracurricular programs in drama and journalism. That’s right, the #NeverAgain movement is being led by drama kids.

So those leaders of the #NeverAgain movement were trained by an unusual (for most of the US) collection of curricular and extracurricular programs for what they are now doing. These are the programs that made them articulate and eloquent and able to stand in front of cameras and debate with senators. Drama kids. I won’t bother to list here all the things a student can learn by participating in theatre; if you are reading this, you already know them. Suffice it to say, those skills are numerous and significant.

So while the rest of the US is training workers, Broward County Florida is training leaders. Yes, of course, that’s an exaggeration, but not by so much if you think about it. And yes, we do need technicians and engineers and doctors and physicists, but those technicians and engineers and doctors and physicists need other skills too, skills that can only be had through arts education.

Fortunately, there is a movement to insert arts into STEM education. It’s called STEAM and the A is, of course for “arts/design.” The program is being headed by one of the most prestigious arts schools in the country, Rhode Island School of Design. The good news is that, at least according to the STEM to STEAM website, STEAM is being “widely adopted by institutions, corporations, and individuals.” The bad news is that it’s not being adopted widely enough. So please support STEAM—any way you can.

Category:Education | Comment (0) | Author:

hogan outlet hogan outlet online golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet golden goose outlet canada goose pas cher canada goose pas cher canada goose pas cher canada goose pas cher canada goose pas cher hogan outlet hogan outlet hogan outlet hogan outlet hogan outlet