Embracing Creativity

Here is a guest post from my husband Ryan Carney on creativity in schools. He is a middle school guidance counselor and advocate for finding ways to positively engage students in school by fostering their own innate talents.

Are students bored in school? Or perhaps the more appropriate question might be: has student attention declined with the surge of technology? After watching the video, Changing Education Paradigms”, from Sir Ken Robinson I turned to Google and put in a search for “the rise of ADHD in children”. ADHD is described as an epidemic by many, with approximately 6 million children in the United States diagnosed with the disorder since 2011. I found a significant number of articles from reputable sources such as CNN, NBC, etc. citing that between 11% of children aged 4-17 are diagnosed with ADHD. These articles seemingly all cite technology as one of the main issues. They argue that students are facing so much screen time that they are unable to focus and pay attention in class. However, I do not believe that technology is the “problem” here.

It is human nature to crave and absorb information. The children of the 21st century are not an exception in that regard, they have just found new mediums that did not exist when we were growing up to find their information. Children are excited and engaged when they are with friends on their phones or computers looking at videos on YouTube, but when it comes time to pick up a textbook, they can’t focus. As a school counselor, I struggle to label this as ADHD. Teachers need to find creative ways in which to engage students so that   As Sir Ken Robinson says, “ I am not saying that the condition does not exist, however I am suggesting that this “epidemic” of ADHD as described by the media is not as it seems.”

As a school counselor I work closely with many students that present with symptoms of ADHD. These students are generally among the most innovative of their class. The late Robin Williams once said, “We are all only given a little spark of madness, you mustn’t lose it”. In a culture where conformity is valued, those who do not fit the traditional mold are alienated, medicated and isolated. They are told to pay attention like everyone else, when they are incapable of being anyone except themselves.

As we move forward in education we must be diligent in our dedication to treat creativity in education with the same regard as mathematics, social studies, or any other discipline. It is far too easy to lose sight of our innate talents in a world as fast paced as ours. It is our collective creativity that brought America to prominence. We mustn’t lose our spark of madness.

Se Habla Español

bilingualImage: ©iStockphoto / Andrew Rich

 

I feel an exceptional amount of pride when I am able to tap into my skills as a bilingual speaker of English and Spanish to provide translation services to parents and students in my school.I eagerly await a moment when my colleagues will ask me to translate important school information to Spanish-speaking parents who yearn to be part of the classroom community despite their language abilities. I have found that parents with limited English skills are often nervous to ask questions so I always try to make myself available to help in ways that will alleviate any concerns they have regarding school procedures, classroom activities, or their child’s progress in the classroom. Recently I explained the steps to creating the time-honored “Flat Stanley” project to a parent of a first grader. I was proud to function as the bridge between teacher and parent to relay class information because otherwise the information may not have been received due to language barriers.

Teaching in the 21st century means that schools need to make it their mission to be inclusive of all diversities, languages, and cultures. We are preparing students for a future we are not even exactly sure will look like, sound like, or be like. So as educators we need to be inclusive of all people who enter our school buildings so that we can welcome them with open minds and open hearts.