What We Need: Innovation, Creativity, and Art

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In my arts in the city class, we had the opportunity to visit Arts for Humanity, an after school program for students to explore the arts. Focused on changing culture in under resourced areas, Arts for Humanity allows students to gain art training and experience, as well as money for pieces that sells. This was one of my favorite quotes from the building. What if we pushed these concepts in our schools? How could our thinking change about art, collaboration, and community?

We must be learning to feel fully alive

“We must be learning if we are to feel fully alive, and when life, or love, becomes too predictable and it seems like there is little left to learn, we become restless-a protest, perhaps, of the plastic brain when it can no longer perform its essential task”. (page 116)

Doidge, Norman. The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science. New York: Viking, 2007.

The Brain that Changes Itself

“The brain Merzenich describes is not an inanimate vessel that we fill; rather it is more like a living creature with an appetite, one that can grow and change itself with proper nourishment and exercise.”

-The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge, M.D.

Tribute To Guitarist Pat Martino - Scan/Edit 03 07
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Mikey G Ottawa via Compfight

Language and Image

Being aware of the power of language and image is not about being politically correct; it is about treating people with respect, dignity, and increasing awareness. -Leah Serao

Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept
Photo Credit: Scott Maxwell via Compfight


‘All those child psychologists who said “John prefers to play by himself” were dead wrong’.

 “I did not want to play alone, I played alone because I was a failure at playing with others.” -John Elder Robison

Another touching, yet scary realization John Elder Robison shares in his book, Look Me in the Eye.

“As a functional Aspergian adult, one thing troubles me deeply about those kids who end up behind the second door. Many descriptions of autism and Asperger’s describe people like me as “not wanting contact with others” or “preferring to play alone.” I can not speak for other kids, but I’d like to be very clear about my own feelings: I did not ever want to be alone. And all those child psychologists who said “John prefers to play by himself” were dead wrong. I played by myself because I was a failure at playing with others. I was alone as a result of my own limitations, and being alone was one of the bitterest disappointments of my young life. The sting of those early failures followed me long into adulthood, even after I learned about Asperger’s.”

Passage taken from: Robison, John Elder. Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s. New York: Crown, 2007. Pg 211.

I do not know about you but this passage hit me hard. As a teacher, I wonder how I am supposed to encourage the play of all students when some students on the outside seem unwilling to play with others. Students tend to avoid activities that are hard so it should not come to a shock when a student with Asperger’s removes themselves from a group of people to feel “safe” or more “secure”.

Throughout my years of interacting with students, I have learned that every child wants to be accepted and loved for who they are as individuals. While some people are definitely more extraverted than others, no one wants to live life fully alone. We must be sure to include students the best we can and create opportunities of play for students who struggle. Without the child knowing, teachers can be consciousness of who they pair a student with Asperger’s with and create environments that encourage structured playing time. Structured playing time may help the child with Asperger’s to play with more ease and not feel the bitter disappointment of playing alone.

Students with Asperger’s can also be taught and instructed in what is considered appropriate behavior. Students without Asperger’s must also be taught how one should treat and include all human beings. With this said, teachers can have classroom discussions that include all students about appropriate behavior during play, recess, or lunch to help create an inclusive and safe environment for all students to interact and feel included.

I believe the teacher or the parent plays a huge role in setting the standard of how students in her classroom or home treat one another. Students can be taught basic principles of respect, understanding, and manners. This simple classroom discussion can lead to happy people and happy students, and prevent more passages as the one read above about John Elder Robison.

 As stated in a previous post, I highly recommend the book: “Look Me in the Eye” by John Elder Robinson to gain a better understanding on people with Aspergers.