Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Power to Create

Yesterday, I, along with MLA Heather Klimchuk, attended a performance at Glenora Elementary School. Every student in the school was involved in a theatrical performance, under the guidance of Trickster. If you aren't familiar with Trickster, they are a professional company who have worked with 430 schools in Alberta over the past 20 years. Three professsional actors arrive at the school on Monday with many boxes of props, costumes and technical equipment.  Over the next few days, the actors work with each class to create original scripts which have high levels of physicality, fun and imagination. Parent volunteers work tirelessly creating additional costumes, painting props or doing whatever is needed to bring the scenes to life. By Friday, there is, miraculously, a show. I've seen many Trickster performances and they are all inventive, funny and remarkably polished given the tight time constraints. Their work is supported by grants from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. The other half of their fee is supplied (most often) by the Parent Council of the school. It is money well spent.

What do kids learn from their interaction with these skilled artists? They are taught how to work as a team, to think outside the box and enthusiastically say "WHY NOT?", to have fun, to innovate, to problem-solve, to express themselves, to empathize and put themselves in someone else's shoes for a moment. They are opened up to a whole new vocabulary of possibilities. Most importantly, perhaps, they are reminded of their pwn power to create.

Creativity is, I believe, a natural gift we all possess. Somehow though as we grow older most of us lose touch with it or begin to doubt it. We start to look outside ourselves and imagine that creativity is only afforded to the chosen few.  I couldn't disagree more.

How can we encourage creativity in schools? Creativity is messy, loud and unclear. It cannot be scored like a PAT or put into provincial graphs. It is full of multiple failures.  It is personal, subjective and emotional. It is irreverent and rule-breaking. It wanders into controversial topics and explores what it means to be a human. And, despite all these challenges, creativity is an absolutely essential.

We need to tap into the creative potential of every student, not to make a generation of wall-to-wall singers, poets and actors (although I do believe every society needs artists)... but because we need help encourage a generation of creative businesspeople to innovate the next economy, creative scientists to solve the problems of climate change and sustainable living, creative doctors to find cures for our most challenging health problems, creative lawyers to examine ethical issues, creative parents to help their children navigate an increasingly complex world and creative politicians to wrestle with global citizenry.  We need creative thinking in every job, in every home, in every town square to help us survive as a race. We need to be creative communicators to help us overcome the issues that divide us and creative thinkers to shine a light on the possibilities not just the obstacles.

We will need every ounce of our collective creativity to build a better world.

1 comment:

EducatorDave said...


Trickster will be at Coronation this week and I am sure we can save you a seat.

David Salmon