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I have watched my kids’ immersion in creation and design for some time now. Maddie 8 and Jake 6 exist in a state of creative evolution that is breathtaking.

When I am caught in their ‘Flow,’ I get lost.The most striking thing about their process is the effortlessness of it. In it, I see the seeds of future design, experiential learning, and much of what we secondary teachers are pursuing – the elusive modern learning motivation.

My kids can shift from computer to crayon, to theatrics on a whim.

And when I cue into their creative frequencies I witness storytelling, performance, monologue,  pantomime – pure drama, pure joy. Untethered and unlimited.

For this single reason, I confess that I am ridiculously and irrationally jealous of my elementary teacher colleagues – they get to see this side of my children every day.

My kids are completely willing to create anything, over and over and over again. Seamlessly, shamelessly, repeatedly trying to make really cool stuff from imagination.

I will take some fault for this. I draw and write and cook and get fascinated frequently. I get messy and random often. I lose myself, find some of my parts, and begin again. This process always blows my mind.

In its irreverent elegance, I can see how my kids’ process could lead to higher designs and methods. Nonlinear processes start with unbound potential at an early age. Both of my children revel in the non-linear. I love that they lead me into their nonlinear open spaces and tell me nothing- no explanation, no rules, just present and play. And they throw down creative projects nearly every day. Despite all of this, I fear the future.

It is possible that this fire may burn out. I do not want it to, but the curious spirits of my children may not make it to high school.

I’ve seen it too many times. Something about getting marks, something about puberty, something about peer pressure, something about stress, something about executive function- so many somethings that could erode their growth mindset.

Grade 9 may be the beginning of a something-like-an-ending. So, I am mapping out my counter strategy like a navy seal, making every logistical chess move to keep the creative in every day. To make open space for fun, I tell them to skip homework, play video games, and make choppy movies on their leap pads. My hope is that I am inoculating them against the slow rumbling riptide of adolescence.

As an educator in the same system as my children’s teachers, I work tirelessly to hack the K to 12 ladder, flatten it, create loops and landings, connect convos between the starts and finishes so that what once looked like a pipeline, gets a bit more basket-woven. A K to 12  framework suggests a deeper more considered opportunity to share resources and engender not only a progression of achievements but also to pass the creative torch from elementary to secondary. No small task there, I know.

Elizabeth Gilbert gave me tons of #thoughtfuel and challenged me to pursue small transformational moments of creativity in my classroom. Her book Big Magic brought me to many moments of ‘what if?’. My colleague gets a laugh out my creative shifts from teaching to researching, to colouring, to writing, to making and then back again. I often call it a part of my messy stage of organizing my thoughts. I get the creative out, put it on display, and get back to work. Just like my kids do.

Right now, could you?

  • Examine your digital PLN, have you included all levels of educators in your convos? Multiple stories enrich and challenge our circumstantial understanding of education.
  • Sign up for PD that encourages cross panel discussions? Face to face meetings connect learning to story to passion to new practice.
  • Show positive-risk, bravery, and resilience in front of your students- colour, sing, paint, dance, draw, act, say ‘Yes!’ Our students follow our leads, what are you building?