Embrace the Shake

I think we all find ourselves saying, “If only I had…” (time, money, ability…), “then I could…”

In reality, our constraints can be an essential element to our creativity.  A perfect example is Phil Hansen who,  in his TED talk, shares how developing an unruly tremor in his hand kept him from creating the pointillist drawings he loved. He ended up quitting art for three years before he learned to ’embrace the shake.’ And then he learned to create within the confines of his limitations.

He bids us to “harness creativity through limitations” rather than simply quit because of them.

If nothing else, you’ll love seeing his ingenious and innovative approach to creating art via constraints:

The Power to Choose

We gather most of our knowledge from others. Some of it we get from first hand experience, but mostly we listen to others or read books written by others and learn from them.

You've Got To Read This Book!I learn so much from books, I usually find the best books through recommendations from others. So I was excited when I found You’ve Got to Read This Book! by Jack Canfield and Gay Hendricks while I was browsing in the school library. It is a series of short essays written by 55 people who tell the story of a book that changed their life. A book about great books and the life lessons the readers took from them.

For example, Stephen Covey (author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The 8th Habit: from Effectiveness to Greatness) cites two books: A Guide for the Perplexed by E.F. Schumacher and Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl as life changing reads. Both books taught him about the power to choose your response to any given set of circumstances and the ability to be self-aware.

We are not simply the sum of our experiences; we can reflect on those experiences and how they interact, and then make a choice based on that awareness.

Covey says that this lesson had a tremendous impact on his teaching, writing and his personal life, including raising his nine children. He realized that we always have the power of choice. “Each of us is responsible for our part of the equation, so we don’t blame anyone else for our situations.”

In the classroom we can teach our students about their power. When a child responds by blaming another child (e.g. “She did this and this to me.”) we can ask, “Why did you choose this response to that?”

Being Self-Aware

Once the child realizes that she has the power to choose her response, she can use her R and I: resourcefulness and initiative. Using our inner resources and creativity is the only way to respond to the challenges we face in our lives. It is a gift of our self-awareness.

Teaching our students that they are responsible for their responses and their learning is the best education we can give them. Our goal should be to help them “gain a level of mastery over themselves, not just academically but also in terms of getting exercise, eating right and living by their consciences.”

Even at a young age children can learn that they have the power to choose their response; they are creative, resourceful and can take initiative.

How can we innovate our schools to help all students understand that they have the power and the responsibility to choose to learn, to design, to create, and to take initiative?