Free to Create

A crazy thing happened this year. I was given the opportunity to move into the Fabrication Lab at Jewett School of the Arts and instead of following a strict curriculum I showed the kids how to use the equipment and got out of their way.

I was not a formally trained on any of the equipment, but I have a lifetime of experience making and building stuff. How I approached this class was how I was taught in shop class many years ago. The teacher assigned some projects that taught us how to use the machines and then we started designing our own projects based on what we needed at home.

What happens when kids are shown how to use equipment and given time to create. Things like this happens …


These are just two examples of students who had a crazy thought and just went with it. Madi’s throne was born from the “Something to Sit On” project assignment. While many focused on stools and simple chairs, Madi jokingly said she wanted to build a throne … she was not really prepared for the response of “ok”. Jacob had a little more experience with the machinery and the pool table idea came from a conversation we were having about possible project ideas. He was looking for something that would be a challenge. This is where he turned the tables and gave me a shock because I jokingly tossed out pool table and he said “yes”. Both of these students exhibited a no fear moment … a moment where they accepted a challenge to make something from nothing. It lie a fire; not only in them, but also in the kids around them.

When you give kids the freedom to think … use their imagination … you enable them to use a gift that is normally locked away. They are empowered through their creativity. Far too often kids are afraid to be creative because they have been trained to follow the directions given from their teachers. How often have they been reprimanded for not following the directions as set forth by their teacher. A popular meme I have seen many teachers use in the past deals with directions …

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We talk so much about empowering kids, but yet many are frustrated because kids cannot follow directions. I wonder if, maybe, we are giving too many directions … so many that in the process of informing the kids of the expectations that we are killing creativity.

Kids need more freedom to create and less teacher telling them what they need to do.

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