Wednesday, January 09, 2013

cane toads, genetics and creativity...

Like Vikings, our children are explorers in wood shop.
 This month's National Geographic magazine looks back on its 125 years support of exploration with an article that investigates  the genetics of exploration. It seems that even animals are effected as they spread beyond their normal bounds. Cane toads are an invasive species that has been spreading across Australia, and the spread is increasing due to the development of ever longer legs. As long-legged toads jump to the forefront, they mate with toads also having longer legs, and so their offspring thence has even longer legs, allowing them to spread even faster and mate with even longer legged toads.

And so the willingness of those in a culture, or in a tribe, or in a classroom to take risks in learning and creative acts is also a genetic trait that is encouraged through the migration of folks into new areas where they mate with those who may be like-minded in their creative inclinations. Eureka Springs can serve as an example. We are now number 8 in the yearly poll of cities that serve as arts destinations, ahead of Taos, New Mexico and just two cities behind Santa Fe. So folks come here to buy art, but also with the intention of making art, and it makes our town an ever more creative place to hang out.

Here, folks have gathered at some risk to do art, and the inclination to take on tasks that offer creative exploration is a form of genetically reinforced creativity, just as they describe in National Geographic with regard to cane toads and explorers. And our students are particularly creative.

Our 1st, 2nd and third grade students are studying the Vikings, their culture, artifacts, conquests and explorations. And so in honor of the Vikings, I offered "creative day" to these students. I allowed them to make whatever they wanted. And creative day is always a trial and adventure for me, too.

Some involved in American education (those who are not actively cramming standardized testing down kids throats) worry about whether or not we are creating a next generation of risk takers, artists and explorers. There is a strong similarity between creative endeavors that take place in the wood shop, and the inclination to discover new processes and the making of new things. If somewhere down the road, we look at American culture and find it stagnant, uncreative, and lacking in both vigor and rigor, we will have only ourselves to blame. Abandonment of the arts and wood shop  is the dumbest of all possible notions.

Today my 7th, 8th and 9th grade students worked on their 9 legged bench.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. Vikings are always a good theme.
    We used to cast copies of Mjølner. The hammer of Thor.

    The runic alphabet can be used to write names on swords etc.

    May I suggest the novel: "The long ships" by Frans G Bengtsson, That is truly a Viking adventurer.
    My father always read out the passage regarding the menu at King Harald Bluetooths Christmas gathering, when we are having the Christmas lunch.