Thursday, April 30, 2015

Debunking Creativity Myths: Creative Schools as the New Normal

I originally wrote this post for City School of the Arts Journal, a blog for the proposed arts-based charter middle school I'm currently working to co-found.


The City School of the Arts team recently had an opportunity to hear Sir Ken Robinson speak at innovative lower Manhattan school Blue School to celebrate the launch of his new book, "Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That's Transforming Education."

There's a reason why Robinson's 2006 TED talk "How Schools Kill Creativity" has become the most-watched talk in the history of TED, with over 30 million online views and an estimated 300 million total individual viewers worldwide: Robinson points to an urgent crisis facing creativity in our global education system, and his words have struck a powerful chord with people of all ages, professions and backgrounds the world over... including us!

The City School of the Arts co-founding team has been following Robinson's work since well before his talk went viral, and the school model we've designed is our best shot at embodying his vision of what school should be: a thriving, vibrant ecosystem that develops students' love of learning, allows their natural gifts to flourish, and prepares them to face the challenges of the 21st century through work that is relevant, engaging and creative.

In his new book, Robinson debunks four common myths about creativity. Taken together, the flip-sides of these four myths paint a powerful picture of exactly the kind of school the City School of the Arts team is envisioning. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Reimagining the "Why" of Schooling

I originally wrote this post for City School of the Arts Journal, a proposed arts-based charter middle school I am currently working to co-found.

I recently had the opportunity to represent City School of the Arts at a conference on employment, workplace culture and innovation at St. George's House, Windsor Castle in the UK. It was a thrill to be able to present what I've learned from my students about creative leadership over the last decade to a gathering of Britain's leading innovators and change-makers in fields ranging from medicine and engineering to philanthropy and finance.

I'm a proud teacher, so talking about my students never fails to make me feel inspired. But this time the experience was particularly poignant. The setting for our gathering, St. George's House, is just steps away from a huge gothic chapel--a massive stone testament to centuries of hierarchical rigidity during which, if your great-grandfather was a serf, you grew up to be a serf. In that context, the opportunity to reflect on the experiences of students from low income neighborhoods who have harnessed creative leadership as a pathway to college and career--radically improving their socio-economic mobility in the space of a single generation--was especially moving.

Keep reading at City School of the Arts Journal

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Creative Rigor; Rigorous Creativity

I originally wrote this post for City School of the Arts Journal, a blog for the proposed arts-based charter middle school I am currently working to co-found. 


When Dr. Damien Fernandez was named Head of School at Ethical Culture Fieldston School three years ago, he told The New York Times he wanted to strengthen their science and math programs “in a way that enhances creativity and problem solving.” Dr. Fernandez was not responding to a vague premonition of Common Core, nor was he pitting Fieldston’s rich progressive history against Dewey's description of "Traditional Pedagogy:” memorization of facts and formulas, teacher-established rules and regulations, drill, practice, and recitations. He was saying what we all know: kids are by nature curious and creative, so their beliefs and interests must be honored. “I don’t buy this whole notion of two cultures, of an artistic and scientific culture, and the two shall never meet,” he said. “I believe the creative spirit is critical for posing questions, for the leeway to explore, and I think that the creative spirit is necessary for today’s world, for the creative economies of the 21st century." 

This is a sentiment that City School of the Arts whole-heartedly embraces. Just last month, Thomas Sosa, one of our former students who is now a junior at RIT, commented, "What I learned doing musical theater in high school feeds directly into my college classes in programming. The idea of creating something out of nothing and developing the precise language that allows you to share that idea with others--that's creativity in a nutshell. What I'm finding is that programming is not just about mindlessly crunching code... It's an aesthetic process. What you're really doing is making art." As if this comment needed punctuation, Thomas then passed around his business card. It read: "Thomas Sosa - Student, Engineer, Dancer."

Keep reading at City School of the Arts Journal