For the next few weeks, I’m going to be posting imaginary letters to real people. I hope some of the concepts are relevant to you. The writing may not be exactly the same, but I think the tone will remain, as one of both curiosity and encouragement. Hopefully there is something that strikes a chord with you.
Also, I’d like to ask that if you have enjoyed the blog, or there has been any value for you in what you have read over the last 6 months or so as I’ve been posting, that you share a link to my site with others. I’m going to start doing a better job trying to share my work, and if you enjoy the writing enough to share as well, I hope you will.
Today’s letter is to some of my students, particularly those who are yearning for more than I feel like I can currently provide for them as the current system is constructed. I fear that we are doing very little to nurture and encourage creativity, and perhaps, because of how we must often approach things, we may even be killing it.
Thank you for all of the questions that you asked this year. Not just the ones that you spoke out loud, but the ones that you thought about on your own. Those questions that bounced around in your head, as you wondered “why” and “how”, and you asked yourself if what I said was right, or true, or accurate. I’m sorry I didn’t always answer your questions. Most of the time, there wasn’t any time. Other times, I knew that if I stopped to answer your question, that most of the other students in the room would get off task, and then we’d have to spend time getting them back on task, and we don’t have time for that. Thank you for making detailed drawings of the plant and animal cells that we made, rather than just copying from the book as I’d instructed.
I’m sorry that I rushed you when you were getting really detailed on our in class projects. You deserve to express yourself fully, and to do your absolute best, rather than conforming to everyone else’s time table. I’ll try and do a better job of that next year. Thank you for doing things differently than I asked, for finding a way that worked for you, rather than just falling in line all of the time. Thank you for being so interested in learning new things. I’m sorry that so much of what I taught you was geared towards a test, that someone else, so far away, has decided is so important. The truth is, it says nothing about what you are capable of in the future, or what type of person you are capable of becoming. I’m sorry that you were led to believe that it was anything more than an assessment tool, something that someone else decided is important. And I’m sorry that so much of our instruction is driven by that decision.
Thank you for working so hard, in spite of these obstacles.
I hope your experience this year won’t kill your creativity. I hope you’ll continue to ask questions, and not be subdued by your next teacher, or by anyone else for that matter. Your voice matters. It may not seem that way, at 12 years old, but we need to hear from you. We (and you) need your creativity more than we need your compliance, despite what you may have experienced up to this point. You don’t have to live inside the box that me, and many of the other adults in your life have designed and tried to put you in. Certainly there are times that you need to comply, to play by the rules. But I’m not worried about you. Even at your young age, you know what is right and what is wrong. And if you make a mistake in that direction, it’s okay, you’ll get it right.
If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing wrong until you get it right. Developing your voice, nurturing your creativity, and fanning your gifts into flame, are certainly things that are worth doing.
Keep at it.
Don’t worry if you make a mistake while you are being creative. You are still trying to figure it out. And you know what, that’s better than all those people who are trying to act like they’ve got it all figured out. Because they don’t. Nobody does. The best will be reserved for those you keep on trying to figure it out, even as they “fail”. I believe in you, and I hope you’ll continue to learn to believe in yourself, and that you’ll keep being creative, despite the obstacles that we like to put in your way.
Continue developing your voice, your creative spirit, and your questioning mind. Continue to learn how to lead yourself. You may be wrong sometimes, but that’s okay. Keep asking questions, keep thinking things through, keep trying, and you’ll be just fine. School is not the only place to get educated. Continue to seek out things that excite and interest you. Continue to learn, not just recite. Continue to seek, not just be served. Continue to color outside of the lines, when necessary.
Continue to be creative.