At a recent conference, I was able to participate in a forum based around the idea of creativity and innovation in education. This is a very hot topic right now, and for good reason. If we’re gong to participate and be a relevant player in the 21st century, we need to educate our future in how to be creative. One of the points that was brought up at the forum was that every job requires creativity. Even the person who flips burgers at the local fast food restaurant needs to be creative in order for their work to have purpose. One of the participants on the creativity panel was a construction manager for a local commercial construction company. He contended that every job can be an artform at some point.
What a way to look at our future!
This construction manager was right, of course. Because if you love your job you’re going to do it well. If you have a passion for your work, it becomes art when you fulfill and exceed your job requirements. If you love what you do, you can make it into work of art. Passion leads to art. So in essence, if we can foster passion in our students, we are teaching them how to access and use their creativity.
My husband is a concrete construction manager. Up until this forum, I didn’t think of his job as art. In fact, I thought our jobs were on two opposite ends on the creativity spectrum. I’m a fine arts teacher and arts integration specialist. It’s my job to be and teach creativity. He manages heavy equipment and concrete all day long. Yet, if we shift our thinking and believe that every job is art, I can see how my husband is an artist in his job. He happens to love what he does for a living. He is passionate about building things and making something new in the world. To him, it’s not just concrete. Concrete is a substance that can be wielded to build new, innovative buildings that help people and provide places for things like hospitals, schools and commercial industry. Of course there’s art in that!
So if we are going to educate a future workforce, don’t we want them to be passionate about what they do?
Don’t we want them to commit themselves wholeheartedly to their work so that it becomes art? We can teach them to have that ethic and passion in our classrooms. As teachers, we teach because we love it. We love what it can do and I know more teachers who are artists than any one of them would be willing to admit. We need creative, artistic teachers in our schools – they are the new 21st century model. I encourage us all to foster our own creativity! Write a reflection about why you became a teacher in the first place. What sparked you into this profession? Once you remember the spark, use it to further your knowledge in whatever area interests you and bring that with you to your classroom this fall. What a way to start the year off right!
Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.