February: Out of Our Minds
It is not unusual for people in Wisconsin to be “out of their minds” by the time February arrives. We can be a bit stir-crazy from being stuck in the house because of cold or bad weather. So it is fitting that the title of the book I read for the Artful Readers Club this month was “Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative” by Sir Ken Robinson. Last fall I heard the author speak on UW campus in Madison as part of the Science Festival and was fascinated by his views regarding education and creativity. There was so much that I could relate to as a Certified Zentangle Teacher.
The book itself is relatively short; 286 pages before the endnotes (which this book was probably the only time I ever read any book notations). However, the length of the book did not mean it was a quick read, at least not for me. It was not a difficult read but one that had so many though provoking ideas and stories that I spent a significant amount of time rereading parts and digesting ideas and how they relate to things in my life.
The main theme of the book is why creativity is needed to compete in the world economy and how our current education system is not developing students with the skills to access their creative abilities. The focus on standardized testing and what is considered the “academic” disciplines has limited the inclusion of the arts in schools. The book includes several examples of ways that businesses and schools are working to address these issues. There has been an increase of college educated youth entering the work force but the difficulty that these people are having trying to find employment is another indication of education needs that are not being met. Overall, I think the book is an excellent read (although I did rate it a three out of five on GoodReads) but did feel a bit redundant at times. The information contained in the book has been helpful as I am currently having many discussions with my oldest son, who just turned 16, about college planning and identifying where his passions lie. I think the following quote from the book sums up the author’s views:
“Education is not a linear process of preparation for the future: it is about cultivating the talents and sensibilities through which we can live our best lives in the present and create the future for ourselves.”
My artwork is the first of a new series of Zentangle Inspired Art that I am planning. It is based on the Chinese proverb, “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.” I felt that it also represented the relationship that is needed between all types of learning for an individual to achieve a full life.
This proverb is also used by The Red Thread Project®, which celebrates community connections, both visible and invisible, while encouraging and fostering individual creativity. It is community art made by the community for the community. Hundreds of youths and adults knit and crochet hats; attach the hats to a ½ mile long knitted red thread; wear the hats in a simple performance / dance; exhibit the hats and, finally, donate the hats to local charities including those assisting cancer patients, foster children, the elderly and the homeless.