“Aha” moments are pretty freakin’ cool, don’t you think? One day, you’re happily going about your business as usual, and through a chain of events, something or someone comes across your path and disrupts your thinking in a manner that alters the way you look at the world.
Recently, I had a chat with Amber Kane, a handmade textiles maker and high school art teacher with a pension for stirring the proverbial pot when it comes to educating our children. To say the conversation was transformative for me would be an understatement.
I’ve always been passionate about education, even more so now that my son is quickly approaching his kindergarten age, and although I have considered alternatives to how he might be educated, I fret a lot about the state of affairs in our current school system. Our preconceived notions about how to properly educate kids are proving to need some review—worse, they’re potentially harmful to our children’s way of life. How could it not be when the U.S. is ranked 19th in reading, 22nd in science, and 29th in math.
When I was in grade school, these numbers we’re not nearly as bad, but at the begining of the decline. The country’s answer to the decline in academics was to enforce more academics, meanwhile pushing out as much of the artistic curriculum as possible. I am no expert on education, but it seems to me that when you start eliminating courses that stir creative thought, you are asking kids to operate on only half of their brain power.
Imagine if someone said to you that the best way for you to save on gas was to remove half of the spark plugs in your car. Not only would you not save much fuel, but you’d suffer in performance, and potentially ruin your motor. Why would a human mind be any different? If anything, these new standardization tests our kids endure are more about validating the status quo of educators than actually doing anything to benefit the children.
In my conversation with Amber, we talked a lot about the current education system, the struggles she sees as a teacher, the problems she’s faced, and how she aspires to make big change in the way the creative minds of kids are challenged and inspired. It was a powerful conversation for me and I plan on sharing the whole thing with you very soon.
What Does it All Mean?
A couple days prior to my conversation with Amber, I had another chat with my friend Berni Xiong. In that convo, she told me about how both her personal and her professional life was changed because she came across AJ Leon and his mission to change the world through small, meaningful acts. Berni was inspired by AJ and it has changed the way she’s looked at the world in general; having a purpose beyond her own concerns has given her life more purpose, and become more fulfilling overall. This sounded great to me, but I really didn’t have that kind of influence in my life at that moment, or so I thought.
Amber made mention during the conversation that she would much rather get to the children at an early stage in life to encourage creativity and inspiration in them instead of waiting for them to get to high school where most of that creativity had been beaten out of their heads by the academic oppression of the standardized school system—Foster the already creative imaginations of the young before they lose it in adulthood.
Amber Kane’s movement is a long way from being what AJ created, but that alone is the perfect reason to get behind what she is doing now. Her words compel me to take action. I haven’t formulated a real plan yet, but as I was listening to her speak, I knew there was an incredible force being created inside me. I often speak of my distaste for the starving artist syndrome and how I make it my mission in life to eradicate that phrase from the hearts and minds of people everywhere. It never occurred to me to start earlier.
The Absorption Rate of the Common 3 Year Old Mind
My son is a sponge. The rate at which he obtains and retains information blows my mind on a daily basis. The things he repeats to me and the facts he recalls keep me awestruck. Based on what I see, I can only assume if I were to foster his creative spirit as well as his need for academic fundamentals, he will become a highly functional individual. Again, I am no educator, but I challenge anyone to find contrary evidence to prove me wrong.
My job here at Fresh Rag is to empower creatives, not just with tools and tactics to help them do their work, but with ideas and motivation to remind them of their true value on this world. Why can’t those same ideas apply to children as well as adult entrepreneurs?
I don’t have a plan yet, and I don’t know where this whole journey will lead me, but I believe that in order to truly start a creative revolution, one where artists and artisans finally believe in the value they bring, we need to start at the base level. The children are the answer, I’m sure of it. Now I just have to figure out how to turn that idea into something tangible, something powerful and profound that can start a movement.
Of course I’m still going to be here to empower the likes of creative adults the world over, but now with even more purpose than ever before. Let the education begin… for all of us.
Now, the question remains, what are you going to do to help empower young artists? Tell us one thing that you can do today that would have a creative and positive affect on a child. Give us your ideas in the comments below. I’m eager to hear what you have to say.[photo credit]