One of the blogs I read regularly is Maya Frost’s. She has a very interesting background in mindfulness training and global education and is currently living in Uruguay with her husband, but is soon to move back to Japan after having been there 22 years ago teaching young children. She has raised her daughters to be global citizens. In her book The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a TrulyInternational Education , which I would love to read, she describes how her daughters all lived abroad (with or without her and her husband) and also obtained great college educations in other countries, skipping ahead, learning languages, and in the process gaining a global mindset at a lower cost. Her term for it is Smart Education Design.
I read her latest post about what she’s going to be doing in Japan, playing with preschoolers, and her reflections on the self-regulatory behavior, self-talk and creativity she’s going to be fostering in them through her role in stepping back and offering loving support and very gentle guidance.
I was struck by her last comment: “Kids will figure out how to play if we provide the right environment and get out of the way.” Wow. Sugata Mitra told us the same thing in his keynote address Sunday night at Big Ideas Fest 2010. The Indian children were able not only to figure out what the computer hole in the wall was, but also how to use it for entertainment and learning, all without the assistance of any adults. When children would ask him, “What do we do?” his reply was “I have no idea. And now I am going to go.”
At one of the Action Collabs on Monday at Big Ideas Fest, we were asked to pair up in an improv exercise. One partner would name two objects for the other, and the other would comment on them, moving the scene and conversation forward. “Yes…and…” My partner told me that I was not that bad at being creative. It was reaffirming. Yeah, I guess I can be creative after all…
After returning home and reading Maya’s article, I began thinking about my own education history. My parents sent me to Montessori school at a very young age. I recall engaging in a lot of active, imaginative play even as an older child. I still sing silly songs to my partner today. Maya says, “Those who have spent years developing right-brain education techniques understand that children can be taught to maintain a strong right-brain orientation and that it is easier to do so if they begin the balancing act at between three and five years of age.” Wait a minute here. Maybe I need to nurture my right-brain orientation even MORE now as an adult. Why don’t I seek a work environment (or create one for myself) where the creativity that my parents allowed me to develop is rewarded and encouraged? Design thinking is needed now more than ever to solve some of the most intractable problems in education. In searching for my niche, I have realized that perhaps I just need to create my own. DIY education leads to a DIY career.