Posts Tagged ‘creativity’



September 23, 2013


“Can you imagine going to a 1913 hospital” asks Jeff Cacel, principal at North Park Elementary as he positions the REAL issue:  “Why do we subject our children to antiquated and outmoded learning environments?

So at North Park, they’ve made some changes and created a learning studio that houses 94 second graders and 6 teachers which was so successful, the concept has now been expanded to the third grade as well.

Work spaces include tables/chairs, genius bars, hokki stools, and carpeted floor space…plus small rooms for quiet space around the periphery.  YES! Twenty-first century spaces to build twenty-first century skills!

But equally important to me was the work done in redefining the curriculum.  The three “Rs” of reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic have been replaced by the four Cs:  Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity!

Add a little small group work, hands-on learning, conversations, technology and flipped instruction and this is dream come true in revolutionizing education!

I wish I were in school now.  Just think what a better job I could do facilitating a revolution in adult learning – which is also sorely needed in order to succeed in our world today and into the future.



Before they automatically hired temp holiday staff, they asked their existing hourly team members if they’d like additional work over that time period.

But not to worry, they will still need 70,000 new faces…and if there is a repeat of last year, almost 40% of the newbies will be offered year-round positions after the holidays!



She’s laid it all out on the table:

“I don’t think in America we should throw tantrums when we lose elections and threaten to shut down the government and refuse to pay bills…The American people had a choice last November.  They had a choice between someone who said ‘Repeal Obamacare’ and President Obama”.

AMEN TO THAT!  What about majority rule do these folks NOT understand?  We can only hope they self-destruct in their attempt to destroy our nation.



Nice to see at least one news commentator (Jeffrey Goldberg-Blomberg) reads Obama’s stance and effectiveness like I do.  He doesn’t necessarily agree with all the steps to this point, but he acknowledges Obama has been both “tough and effective”…with Syria and Iran – a far different stance from poplar media celebs like NBC whiner, Andrea Mitchell!

Of course, we won’t know until sufficient time passes so UNEMOTIONAL judgment can be made, but it sure is comforting to see if one thinks in a context of today’s world rather than the 1935-1941 run-up to WW2 like George Will and Andrea, one can see a different Obama than the one most of my Boomer generation  see. 

Many of the critiquers might be well-served to spend some time in the North Park Elementary Learning Studio…maybe they would learn something about the century in which we now find ourselves!






IMAGINE How Creativity Works

July 2, 2012

The Heat Advisory has given me some “found” time so I have been tackling a stack of books on the edge of my desk…most started, but not finished.

First checked off the list was a delightful, tiny, and impactful tome by local Minneapolitan, Ray Harris, called “WYNOTT”…with a great lesson.  If you wonder “why” and have a fleeting idea to change it – ask yourself  “Why Not?  You will find yourself on the pathway to innovation and change, as Harris takes you on a journey through an imaginary town called Wynott.  For sure, I would like to live there!

And now, I’m immersed in a new book by Jonah Lehrer.  Last week, I heard him on MPR and realized I had purchased his book, but not delved into it yet.  I bought it because of the jacket claim: this would be a look at the new science of creativity and it boasted that we all can become more creative.

And indeed, as I opened the book and fell through the “rabbit hole”, the surprise was not the unfamiliarity, but how familiar the themes were. First,  a welcome reliance on modern brain science which refutes much of what we were taught in the 20th century…collaborating the right way, including right brain/left brain working together…the importance frustration and struggles  play in triggering insight and innovation…all topics I am familiar with, but each with a twist that created another  ”aha” moment for me.

And along the way, I revisited topics and facts that added to the argument:

The three top innovation corporations in the world are Apple, Google, and Yes- 3M – right here in Minnesota. We know the 3M innovation story; but when put in the category of Apple and Google, it takes on a greater importance somehow.   More fodder for me to use to support my argument that we live in a metro area rated the 5th most creative in the United States; we have talent here we don’t even know about, and most corporations and organizations in this city do not need to look outside our own backyard to find some of the most creative thinkers and doers in the country.

Many characteristic of what we used to call “disabilities” such as autism, bi-polar disorder, and ADHD are accepted characteristics and behaviors of persons recognized as highly-creative – and have been so throughout history.  Does this support my thought of re-evaluating some of the characteristics defining these conditions in a different light?  Instead of personality “disorders”,  did these qualities just not fit in our post-WW II world of industry, suburban sameness, and two-income lifestyles  and thus had to be fixed?  I am certainly not dismissing the problem, nor the impact on parents and families, but I am saying there may be some merit in following the model of the man who built an entire company staffed by autistic persons after he realized his autistic son had a GIFT for proofing computer code.   Or looking at some of the lessons learned and reported in “Dyslexic Advantage”.  Perhaps returning to some part of a world where same-ness was not valued as much as individuality would have far-reaching benefits to us all.

Dreaming enables our creativity as it allows us to make all sorts of surprising connections that lead to innovation. 

All that, and I was only at the half-way point.  What came next needs some massaging and time to “sleep on” as it represented many things to which I had not been exposed before.  For instance, do you know why brainstorming “feels good” but does not work, and real  innovation comes from the opposite- constructive criticism? 

Watch for the Second Installment!



November 6, 2010

Yesterday, driving home from yet another eye appointment, I was listening to MPR Midmorning Show with Kerri Miller.  Guests were Po Bronson and Shelly Carson discussing the lack of teaching of creativity in schools. The experts gathered in the studio and contributing callers via phone once again reinforced a position I have been studying and following for the past few years.  Brain and learning research over the last twenty years has changed how we should be thinking about education of our children.  Creativity  quotients (think innovation) have been decreasing in public schools since sometime in the late 1950s and we continue to rest on our laurels of American successes gained during the first 2/3 of the 20th century – with minimal progress since.

Right Brain/Left Brain theories are out the window.  One can be taught creativity and innovation if the focus of education includes problem-solving, not just high scores on tests.  This is not a movement led by a single person trying to revolutionize the world to his way of thinking.  This is 20 years of amassed facts by a growing body of experts with not only research but case studies to back up their theories.

Just last week, I was enjoying breakfast at the Nicollet Island Inn and overheard (and I confess, then eves-dropped) on a conversation at the next table.  Two gentlemen were discussing break-throughs in bringing design method of learning to K-12; teaching collaboration, socialized learning, and patterning learning found in Design Schools such as the School of Architecture with good results – as they explored how they could work together to bring these results into the forefront in the Minneapolis community. 

And yet, the public discourse on the topic remains tightly held in the hands of politicians wrestling with teachers, administration, parents and the teachers unions over old-school methods , using historical 20th century results  and disproven truths to support why they are RIGHT in their antiquated thinking.  

Surely, education experts focusing on what we know today about learning and innovation should get their chance on the stage soon – but I am not optimistic.  We are so caught up in preserving the 20th century “America Rules” mentality that we cannot open our minds to how we can move forward –despite all signals pointing to the wave of American world dominance is over.

As for me, unfortunately, since I was driving and somewhat distracted by my eye issues, I do not recall all the details of the MPR discussion…so two new books are added to my “Must Read” list – Carson’s “The Creative Brain” and Bronson’s “NutureShock: New Thinking about Children”. 

 So like it or not, expect to hear more on this topic in the future!