Behind the Blog

Behind the Blog
My name is Cindy Kruse and I've been learning from elementary students for the past 16 years. I enjoy discovering new technology and implementing it in the classroom, absolutely love literacy, and am passionate about Responsive Classroom. I am constantly striving to learn new and innovative ways to teach students in order to provide authentic, interesting, and joyful classrooms.


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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Imagine that!

My mother was the most creative person I know.  She once confessed to me that she felt her need to create something was just like the need to breathe...she just had to do it in order to feel alive.  Often she would get up at 4:30 in the morning because she was so excited to work on a project she had just begun (making a purse out of a suit jacket, figuring out a pattern for a hat crocheted from plastic grocery bags, or creating a watch band from antique buttons).  When she was creating, she was "in the zone" - oblivious to time, the need to eat, and of course the mess surrounding her space - which she always explained, was absolutely necessary in order for her to create.

You may be wondering where I've been for the past months as I have taken a brief hiatus from this blog.  My mom was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer last June.  I was fortunate enough to have nine months after her diagnosis to spend precious time with her.  We sewed, knitted, quilted, and crafted our way through chemo and radiation.  We were entrapped in a creative frenzy of our own making.  Last November, my mom was featured at the Cancer Center in her own "Artist Exhibit".  Although she had completed her last radiation treatment that very day, she was exuberant, excited about sharing her creations with others.

                                                        Mom and I at her "Art Exhibit"

             Notice the "Mitten Tree" in the background...they were created from old sweaters!

During the past year, I've learned how important creativity is to our "human selves".  The ability to create something new - whether it is an original idea, new invention, work of art, ....or even a watch band made out of buttons, is what makes the human race so special.  This ability is what sets us apart from the rest of creation.

Creativity, or more specifically the lack of it, is a hot topic in education as well as in the business world.  With the speed at which our world is evolving, we need creative individuals....those that can imagine a new way....adapt, to create a better version....envision something we never thought possible.  This is why the business world has teamed up with educators to promote the 21st Century Skills.  It comes as no surprise that creativity is an essential part of this framework. 

However, in the classrooms our rush to cover the topics deemed as "essential" prohibits us from allowing children the time to explore and really create something new.  The funny thing about just can't rush it.  Creativity takes time.  Time to imagine, reflect, rework, and even "play around".  If you study the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy or Webb's Depth of Knowledge you'll see "create" at the top of the hierarchy....this is what educators should strive for in the classroom.  Yet ask any classroom teacher and they'll tell it like it is - who has the time for that?

My mom taught me an important lesson for my personal life as well as in the classroom...creativity must be nurtured in order to bloom.   While all of us possess this innate ability to create, not many choose to take the time to pursue it or build an environment to encourage it .....we simply don't allow ourselves that precious "time".  How often have you heard an adult state sadly, "I'm just not that creative"? 

Young children (who admittedly seem to have all the time in the world) begin their lives full of creative potential.  I recently heard a story that illustrates my point.... A little girl was drawing a picture in school.  The teacher asked, "What are you drawing?"  The little girl replied, "I'm drawing a picture of God!"  The teacher quickly responded, "But nobody knows what God looks like."  The little girl confidently retorted, "Well, they will in a minute."  

According to Ken Robinson in his book Out of our Minds:  Learning to be Creative, "Everyone has huge creative capacities.  The challenge is to develop them.  A culture of creativity has to involve everybody, not just a select few."   What steps will you take to allow your creativity to flourish?  Better yet, what will you do as an educator in the coming year to nurture creativity in your classroom?  Stay tuned as I continue to discuss creativity in the coming weeks with ideas you can implement in the new school year.  In the meantime.... just imagine what it might look like!