Creative Environments

As an educator, I have always steered clear of using teachery/stock curriculum in the classroom. I learned long ago that the more organic and authentic, the better the quality of both instruction and student work.

I love Brain Pickings. I’m not sure I have ever read a post with which I did not resonate in some way or that did not spark a new idea or insight to my own creative process or thinking. This particular article, Bob Dylan Songwriters on Songwriting, is worth a skim as it touches on some great thoughts on creative environments and process. I have in my possession, quite possibly, every Bob Dylan (and Van Morrison) CD ever produced. My first husband, Brian, was an amazing writer and poet. And a hippie bohemian of sorts that sought to infuse beauty into broken places. We would listen to Dylan and Morrison on lazy summer evenings, sip good beer, and talk theology, education, and culture. I had never been much of a Dylan fan but came to appreciate his artistry and music in my early years of marriage (before we moved on to The Backyardigans). In this particular interview, Dylan mentions spaces and processes of artists/creators that I think is worth cultivating in our classrooms:

1. People need peaceful, invigorating environments. Stimulating environments. We don’t need teacher posters or cat posters or even student 100 percent spelling tests. Instead, we need to inspire. We need real illustrations, real art, real lists from real artists, writers, scholars, scientists…we need questions and visuals that push us to think..we need work in progress and process documentation…our rooms and learning environments should never look like a 1990’s classroom….not just in furniture but in what is actually happening in the classroom. Why? Because students need to create. They need to create every day, in different subjects, in different ways, for extended periods of time. At least when I create, I want to learn more. I try something; it doesn’t work or I don’t like the way it looks. So I research. And I observe. Then I reimagine and start again.

2. Poets Listen. Yep. I have to do this in my creative endeavors all the time, and have found it to be a learned skill. Teaching students to listen to each other, to experts, to the problem/challenge at hand. The more we can ask questions and expect thoughtful responses teaches them to listen and make sense of what they hear.

3. Responding (vs. just creating from scratch.) The response is part of the process. We need to teach students to respond and analyze something already there, rather than just having them “go create.”

4. Create quickly. As I have taught in different places and in different grade levels, I have found that many educators do not necessarily understand or even practice the creative process. Maybe it is time or lack of interest or not what is expected from an administrative level. In any case, I believe every person is an artist, a creator, a maker. And the creative process doesn’t always have to take hours, weeks, months–sometimes great ideas come from a stream of consciousness.

THE BEST THINGAVAILABLE

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