I have done an activity as a teacher, now, several times. Each time, it produces almost the same results. I use it to talk about creativity with my students, but little did I know that I need my own lesson.
I give my students a blank piece of paper and a marker and then tell them that they have 5 minutes to create something. Continually, students freeze. Not just for a second, but for most of the time allotted. The students who get going, love the activity, but about 75% don’t know what to do. I start seeing students looking at their peers’ papers wondering if what they are doing is good enough. What I point out to my students is that they are conditioned to expect rules and procedures for everything they do in school. And when those rules or procedures aren’t given—or heaven forbid, the assignment is open ended—they struggle.
I consider myself a visual/spatial person. I love to visualize things and images stick in my head. But I have always felt inadequate when it comes to illustrating my own thinking. I don’t know if there was a specific moment that I felt that my artistic side decided to take a permanent vacation, or what.
When I was asked to draw a picture for my graduate course this week, I found myself struggling to get started. I didn’t want it to be bad, but I knew that it wouldn’t live up to my own expectations. I needed to sit through my own lesson.
At the Google Innovator Academy in February, we had the opportunity to hear from Sylvia Duckworth who has had some amazing sketchnotes shared around the internet countless times. She encouraged us to try our hand at sketchnoting and not let our fears overcome us. At the ISTE Conference in Denver this past summer, I was lucky enough to present a short session at the Google Teacher Theater. My friend, Jess, and I gave a session that was sketch-noted as we presented. After looking at the sketchnote, I couldn’t help but realize that the visual representation of our session was summed up perfectly in images and short headlines.
Knowing that I don’t have to have requisite skills in drawing and art to be able to illustrate thoughts, I still find it extremely demanding and difficult to take an artistic approach to my thinking. I have always struggled with the mind map, because I always felt that others were better than mine. As if somehow, because my spiderweb was less attractive than someone else’s, I had lesser ideas. This has been inhibiting in my life. I let my fear of perfection and excellence cloud my judgment. This limits my creativity, and getting thoughts on paper.
Maybe if I can overcome this fear, I can demonstrate my learning. It can serve to be a starting point for all things creative. It could allow me to really try something new. It might just be a way for me to actually attempt to accept my inner creative side. But, I am weak. And will probably succumb to my perfectionist attitude. But for now, at least someone was able to illustrate my thinking for me.