This I Believe

Mark - Rocky Hill, Connecticut
Entered on December 21, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: creativity


I believe in the power and majesty of Creativity. As an educator for thirty years, I perceive Creativity in the form of a pyramid. Nearly thirty years ago, I stood on Egyptian sands, enthralled by the sheer size of the last surviving Wonder of the World. Down through history, these monuments have been admired by ensuing generations. The puzzle of the pyramids set great minds to question the meaning of Life and the human existence in the cosmos.

That architectural example also caused me to question about the structure of my teaching career to follow. On a base of knowledge, my students, ever since, have been required to go to lengths of ideas, advance the breadth of the mind and extend the depth of thought.

In the shadow of the Sphinx, I extrapolated the paradigm of the pyramid to my teaching. The multi-dimensional mental form forces students’ minds to hone thoughts toward a clear and concise point. Magically, creativity motivates my students to use their limitless imagination and strive toward the stars.

As the ancient mathematicians believed the triangle to be geometrical perfection, its three sides reflect brains, discipline and imagination to which every boy and girl aspires. Galileo Galilei said, “You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself.”

Sadly, Creativity is being eroded today. I ask: Where is love of history regaled? When is the classroom debate deepened? Point to the place intellectual curiosity is seminally fostered.

Albert Einstein wrote, “The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.”

Another nail in the coffin of Creativity has been today’s national educational climate. With the emphasis on testing, so many teachable moments are squandered whilst every child’s inventive mind withers from the neglect of the intellect.

As a teacher of the gifted for a quarter century, I lament the loss of Creativity as it is vanishing from American schools. Educators may be seeing the end of ingenuity. For every child’s unanswered question, there are hundreds unasked.

Ask yourself: Do you want to be operated on by the surgeon, defended by an attorney or medicated by the pharmacist who was graded on a curve?

Sad to say, there is, additionally, a growing movement not to list Honor Roll Students for academic achievement in local newspapers. The criticism is that it damages the self-esteem of those who cannot make the grade.

Luckily, I teach in a district that has supported a program for the gifted for a quarter century and bright children have that outlet. Furthermore, classroom teachers make every effort to differentiate the curriculum to meet students’ needs. However, when I present at conferences around the nation, I hear and worry about all those towns that do not service the smart.

How do you measure the value of a scientific invention not invented? What is the worth of a poem that was never penned?

What of the art left unexpressed?

Think of all the treasured thoughts left unuttered!

John F. Kennedy, calling for our best, wrote: “Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”

There is a dignity to being different. However, on campuses around the nation, conformity rules. The goalie is cheered more than the scholar achieving academic goals; the highest scorer is photographed but the highest test scorer is left in the lonely laboratory. The people applaud the chair-flinging coach rather than the committee chair of an educational program. School campus conversation ridicules nerdy math ability and “My Space” in cyberspace hero-worships drunken inability. Blogs, rather than highlighting an altitude of success, display an attitude instead of an aptitude. History proves that a culture reigns by what it crowns with public adulation. After all, it takes courage to create something. At first, new ideas and new inventions often are laughed at or scorned. The brave soul has the courage to question and the courage to destroy and to build. Innovators have the courage to attempt and the courage to imagine the impossible. What is created is often loved before it exists. The question remains whether it will remain in the shadows or bask in the light of public good. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist.”

To me, opposing forces reside in the boundaries of Creativity. It is Fire and Ice– for the flame represents the burning rage to know alongside the cold facts in calculated investigative research. Also in it, Earth and Sky reside– the attainment of the tangible and the striving for the intangible. It is Love and Hate– for, like the invention of airplane, human beings have the power within themselves, for both constructive and destructive ends, to create both Good and Evil.

Also co-existing within the dichotomy of Creativity are Light and Darkness — for those who enlighten the body of human knowledge brighten our everyday life, yet the uncharted areas of the dark unknown will always lie just beyond.

When the individual islands of imagination interact with advanced archipelagos of creative thought, new dimensions of thought erupt in the movers and shakers of the world. The familiar will be transformed into the dazzling aura of the profoundly new. Teachers must compel students to the direction of their dreams and give form to their desires.

Without creativity, the survival of the human species is in peril. Acclaimed scientist Jonas Salk said, “Creativity is not a luxury. Ideas are as important as genes. Our future depends on it.”

Who knows where a society that truly values creativity can take us? The human race began as wanderers and has been progressing for millions of years. The urge to create was innate as discovering fire, planting seeds in the soil and making the wheel. Where will we be wandering millions of years hence?

Human must try to solve the puzzle that is the great Pyramid of Creativity, which is responsible for every other wonder of the world.