20% Project

My script for 20% project

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”- Albert Einstein

Isn’t it true though? It’s not always about what you know, rather what you can create.

Take a minute and remember back to when you were a child, what was your favorite thing to do? or play with?

Did you have a favorite tree you climbed or a special way you made your mud pies. I could argue that this is the way a lot of us grew up. Not with a lot of gadgets and toys but with our imaginations and whatever you found in your backyard. This is one of the special things about growing up in such a beautiful place like MT.

 

Loss of imagination has been on the rise for years and now with new and improved technology the gap is getting wider.

One statistic states today’s children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, and yet are only spending 23 minutes reading books.

Some research suggests that screen time can have lots of negative effects on kids, ranging from childhood obesity and irregular sleep patterns to social and/or behavioral issues. And what children are losing is critical thinking, verbal skills, concentration, initiative, innovation and creativity. These are pretty important skill sets to be losing in a time when our economy will increasingly rely on exactly what we’re removing from education.

 

I don’t want to demonize technology: it is a product of creative minds, and it can in some cases encourage, creative personalities. And I bet most of us can say we use computers weekly if not daily but I believe all of these devices encourage a mentality of instant gratification, and decrease the need to think ahead, generate ideas, adapt and solve problems. It takes time to be creative. Technology is not going to go away but balancing it is key. As one teacher said from The Waldorf School of Penninsula “It’s supereasy. It’s like learning to use toothpaste. At Google and all these places, we make technology as brain-dead easy to use as possible. There’s no reason why kids can’t figure it out when they get older.”

So you might ask what can we do to help solve this? Part of the profession we are all interested in is teaching, this is step one. As a teacher we are supposed to be enthusiastic and encouraging. But we are also meant to be leaders in our everyday lives. Make your classroom a place where kids want to be, where technology isn’t teaching your kids. Your style of teaching conveys volumes about your values, discipline, and what you want students to learn. Students take away material a lot better from teachers whose attitude toward your subject is positive. The way your classroom is set up also speaks volumes.

A great example of this is the Waldorf School of the Peninsula they subscribe to a teaching philosophy focused on physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks. Those who endorse this approach say computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans. While other schools in the region brag about their wired classrooms, the Waldorf school embraces a simple, retro look blackboards with colorful chalk, bookshelves with encyclopedias, wooden desks filled with workbooks and No. 2 pencils.

A passerby might see a classroom refreshing their knitting skills, crisscrossing wooden needles around balls of yarn, making fabric swatches. It’s an activity the school says that helps develop problem-solving, patterning, math skills and coordination.

Down the hall, a teacher drilled third-graders on multiplication by asking them to pretend to turn their bodies into lightning bolts. She asked them a math problem — four times five — and, in unison, they shouted “20” and zapped their fingers at the number on the blackboard.

In another classroom students standing in a circle learned language skills by repeating verses after the teacher, while simultaneously playing catch with bean bags. It’s an exercise aimed at synchronizing body and brain.

Another class was taught fractions by having the children cut up apples, quesadillas, cake into quarters, halves and sixteenths.

When asked for evidence of the school’s’ effectiveness, the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America points to research by an affiliated group showing that 94 percent of students graduating from Waldorf high schools in the United States between 1994 and 2004 attended college, with many heading to prestigious institutions.

The other aspect of getting kids to use their imaginations is when the child goes home from school and these devices are far more accessible. Parents need to be given tools to engage their children and excite them.Technology is often abused in the home and is used to distract or keep children busy.

I used to love the days of building blanket forts or playing with boxes. These things seem to be lost in our generation. It’s like they don’t have the creative mind to come up with the things we used to “not have” as a kid.

Something that parents can do to help spark their child’s imagination is designating a space for creating in your home; a space where they can feel free to create new things. Avoid managing their play time is also very helpful; give your child a chance to engage in their activities. Invent scenarios, get outdoors, and help kids activate their senses are all other great tips. Even though the aim for all of this is less screen time there are so many blogs, websites and pinterest pages for parents to get ideas. I have found some great apps that can manage screen time and get your child exploring. Our generation needs to hold on to the childlike imagination. I think Bob Seger said it best, “I wish I didn’t know now, what I didn’t know then.”

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