One person’s scribbles…

Have you ever looked at clouds and tried to imagine shapes and scenes in them? I know I have, and I love it. I remember a talk given by Sir Ken Robinson where he explained that little children’s creativity is often squelched. Blame school, blame pragmatism, or whatever you will, but the creative imagination of a child seems to dissipate as they grow. Not always, but it does happen. Why is it that only artists and designers get to be creatively imaginative these days?

Ruth Oosterman is an artist who has collaborated with her two-year old daughter to create imaginative watercolor paintings. See some examples of their work here. Her daughter creates the base, and Ruth fills in the gaps. Why can’t education be more like this? Students create a base of passion, interest, and drive, and teachers help fill in the gaps with their own knowledge and expertise. I don’t think Ruth stopped her daughter part way through and said, “No, put this line here so that it will create a construct for this.” Yikes!

We need to collaborate with learners. We need to allow them to create and imagine. Imagine what we — and they — could do with their work and ideas at that point! I love art, and I’m glad to see someone who’s allowing creativity to flourish. Maybe more importantly, I’m glad that Ruth is setting a creative example for her daughter…and the rest of us.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I see some clouds….



“LILA” is a short story by Carlos Lascano that follows a young woman’s artistic creativity. Using stop motion and regular film, Carlos depicts the creative perspective Lila has on the world. Her artistic expression is a reminder to us that different people see the world differently and through different mediums.

Like Lila, learners want to contribute to the world. They want to put their own spin on it, and express themselves. They want to create and imagine. It doesn’t always look like colorful sketches that come to life, but it is a reality for all people, whether they realize it or not.

Now for the real question. What would you do with a student like Lila in your class? How would you encourage her learning? Would you see the drawing as a distraction, or a means of empowering Lila? These types of students exist all over the world. Where are they and how are they doing?

Carlos has two other videos to go with this that form a trilogy of sorts. “A short love story in Stop Motion” (2008) and “A shadow of blue” (2011).

Hand-Powered Flashlight

What does creativity look like? How does self-driven learning lead to ingenuity and not just wasted time on the Internet? This is a shining example of a student’s innovative prowess on display. Ann Makosinski of Vancouver, British Columbia conceptualized, designed, and built a flashlight powered by the heat of human hands. Our body heat contains energy, and looking to harness that type of energy, Ms. Makosinski developed this flashlight for a science fair project. Read more about her flashlight and watch the video here:

Watch the video below for an account of this from Ms. Makosinski herself.

This was not a college student. Rather, a 15 year-old high school student who took it upon herself to develop her idea into a functional product. As educators, we cannot teach that innovative, creative thinking. We can, however, guide it to its potential. We need to help spark and inspire these ideas and then assist only as needed. The thinking processes behind this, as well as the motivation are testaments to the innate nature of learning we all possess. We need to unlock it and unleash it and then stand back and watch (only interacting as needed). Don’t mistake me, though. Teachers are definitely necessary here but in a different capacity.

What does it take to see a problem and do something about it? How can we inspire this in others? In ourselves? What would it take for you to learn the science, math, and engineering behind the development of something like this?