"The free play of art is the result of mastery. " --Ernst Fischer, The Necessity of Art

"Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them." --Ladybird Johnson

"...a well-trained ear, a well-trained intelligence, a well-trained heart, and a well-trained hand...." --Zoltan Kodaly


Resources: Music & the Mind

Yet another instance where science supports the notion that learning about music trains the mind to think more creatively....read more, here.


Reality: daily life

There are often times when listening, and caring about our students as people first, changes everything.

Here's just such an example, drawn not from the classroom but from real life....a brief vignette which surprised and delighted me, when I read it.  Reaffirmed the real need to establish connection first, whether in the classroom or out on the city streets.

Read the rest---or hear the story--here.


Resources: Music

Yeah!  A groovy tune to start your week off right--check it out--Sister Rosetta Tharpe, "Up Above My Head".

Get ready to dance!

Listen here.


Learning Link, 114

Most of us in the United States  have heard the recordings of  the "I have a dream"  speech enough that the very words carry the cadence and power of Dr. King's voice as we read them.   Those words have the power to bring a class of ten year olds to  quiet, thoughtful stillness.

The same is true of other works by Dr. King--for older children, for teens, for adults.  His "Why I am opposed to the War" speech is one of those works--it  carries strength, conviction and stirring truths in equal measure.  

 I read some thoughtful words for us as educators in a  beautiful post, on Paul Overton's Every Day is Awesome blog,  about this particular speech of Dr. King's.  Paul said King's words were   "Sobering, yes. But also hopeful in a strange way. Forty-two years later, a man’s passion for justice still has the power to move us. His words still carry the weight of truth and, most importantly, he is still calling us to action. The fact that this speech is timeless is simultaneously sad and beautiful. I don’t know if he thought we would have reached mountain top by now, but you can bet that he wouldn’t have wanted us to stop trying."


(Read the rest of Paul's  post, here.)


Reality: daily life

It's been a ride, this week has--- fatigue,  not enough outdoor time, and general crankiness (hmm....for children and adults!).

In Kindergarten and First Grade....

Me   "Um, you guys? Would you please tell the aliens who kidnapped you in the middle of the night and sent me these (sleepy-tops, silly beans, grumpy-heads...) instead, to send me back my kids?"

Kids  giggle giggle giggle....

or, just recently:  "Oh Ms N, you know, we just got up on the wrong side of the bed."

Me   "Uh, yeah, I can see that."

Kids  "What does that mean, exactly, anyway?"



Resources: Creativity

Great ideas about creating, improvisation, and just plain inspiring listening from two amazingly creative people, Paul Overton (of Dudecraft.com and everydayisawesome.com)  and Noah Scalin (of Skull-a-day
and 365:Make Something Every Day).

The bonus?  It's really fun to listen to--a good creativity boost for our mid-January days.

More, here.


Resources: TED talk

Have you heard this  TED talk yet?  It's intriguing.

Charles Limb is  a surgeon and a musician who studies how the brain operates when musicians play.  He says that creativity is a neurological process that can be--and will be, even more intensively over the next ten years---studied from a brain-based viewpoint.   He uses a special MRI machine that measures blood flow in the brain to track the creative flow  while jazz musicians improvise, and while rappers perform.   Amazing stuff.
It's totally absorbing.  I want to listen to it again...

16 minutes--listen, here.


Resources: Compassion

Today's Learning Link is to a podcast of the NPR show,  Talk of the Nation,  which is an interview about compassion, with Karen Armstrong.

Armstrong, winner of a TED award, is a religious historian who chose to use her TED award to further the awareness of the dire need for compassion in our world.   She asked TED "to help me create, launch, and propagate a Charter for Compassion that would be written by leading thinkers from a variety of major faiths and would restore compassion to the heart of religious and moral life. The charter would counter the voices of extremism, intolerance, and hatred. At a time when religions are widely assumed to be at loggerheads, it would also show that, despite our significant differences, on this we are all in agreement and that it is indeed possible for the religious to reach across the divide and work together for justice and peace."

In her words:  "One of the chief tasks of our time must surely be to build a global community in which all peoples can live together in mutual respect.........The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves.

Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect."

This interview, and her TED talk, are less a presentation of new ideas and more a recognition of the universal application and need for this basic tenet---- a call to action in our daily lives, and in the larger communities in which we live.

As a religious historian and author,  Armstrong naturally grounds her work in the language of religions (not one but all), although the discussion is applicable within a secular context, of course, as well.

More, here.


Rejuvenation: food for thought

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."  --W.B.Yeats


Daily Life, 102

Today, I was in a second grade classroom during their literacy block--sitting on the floor with small groups of children while we took turns reading aloud. 

Max*    Would you please help me to hold this book up? It's pretty big, and my head hurts.

Me   Sure.  I'm sorry to hear that you have a headache, Max.

Max*    No, it's not a headache, really.  My spine just hurts from the top of my backbone all the way to the bottom.

Me    Ouch!

Max*   Yeah, well....it happened last night when my Dad and me were headbanging to Metallica.


*Max, of course, is not this young heavy metal music fan's actual name....


Learning Link, 110

Where do artists find inspiration?

Once they've begun, how do artists nurture their creativity?

How do artists connect their work with their worlds?

NPR/CBC radio interviewers spoke with several well-known creative people in the arts, during the 1970s.  The result was a two-hour radio documentary about creativity and the arts--a discussion which both informs and inspires adult artists, even 30+ years later.

Listen, here.


Learning Link, 109

 Great, short post about learning languages, over at ZenHabits.  Substitute 'music' and nearly all of it applies...interesting.

More, here.


Learning Link, 108

Seth Godin, once again, wrote this past week  not one but two great posts to think about, for anyone who's concerned about education....the first is about impact, the second, more about the quality of our  process and tools.   He knows how to provide much food for thought in--generally--less than one page of writing.  Great stuff.

Check out the first one here, and the second, here.