I have joined the Learning Creative Learning community of the Media Lab at MIT and taken their very interesting course. http://learn.media.mit.edu/lcl/ One of their tenets is that educational programs should inspire students’ “passion” in order to motivate them to “work harder and longer, persist in the face of challenges, and learn more in the process.” I was asked how our program, New World Kids (NWK), does this. Here is part of my reply:
NWK is a program and curriculum developed by the Foundry intended to identify and nurture the creative strengths of diverse children. The program/curriculum cannot be purchased without the teacher training, which is done by the Foundry. For the last five years or so, the program has been implemented year round at Big Thought’s “Thriving Minds” in the Dallas Independent School District as an afterschool program, at Creative Action in the Austin Independent School District both in school and after school and in different formats, and at several museums, such as the Aldrich in Connecticut as a two-week summer or afterschool program.
The Missing Alphabet is a book for parents with the same philosophy and intent. It refers to what we call “The Sensory Alphabet:” line, color, texture, shape, sound, movement, rhythm, light and space. (Look up our book on Amazon—we got great reviews from parents, educators and researchers.)
NWK begins with an exploration of each of these elements in the Sensory Alphabet, which provide a vocabulary bridge between our sensory experiences and our creative work across the curriculum. This Alphabet also provides glimpses into each child’s natural creative strengths. For example, a child who really loves space and shape might be a budding architect; another child who loves texture might be a budding textile artist, cook or even a surgeon. Our passions arise from these natural strengths—what we are good at or desire to be good at. Neuroscience supports this notion—as does common sense! Our brains are designed to seek meaning and educators are encouraged to develop lessons that build on what is personally significant to their students.
NWK provides media (including digital), materials, experiences, problems, etc., to help build on these natural strengths and we use an open-ended structure for lessons so that children have more or less choice in their responses. We include a simple reflection at the end of each lesson with these young children by asking, “What activity did you like best today?” This provides us, them and their parents clues as to where their passions might lie.
Note: If you have passed your childhood, you might want to read Sir Ken Robinson’s book, Finding Your Element. http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Your-Element-Discover-Transform/dp/0143125516 for ideas for reawakening your own passion.