Supporting early childhood professionals worldwide in
their efforts to craft thriving environments for children and adults.
By Lilli-ann BuffinGo to page: 1 2 3 4
I awoke this morning to the sound of my clock radio and the voice of the disc jockey announcing the death of Charles Schulz, the creator of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the Peanuts gang. Immediately, I realized the profound coincidence of hearing this news on the day his farewell comic strip was scheduled to appear in the Sunday newspaper. There is a sweet sadness to this coincidence and a certain rightness, too. I reflect on the words of Benjamin Disraeli: "Most people go to their graves with their music still in them." How lucky for Mr. Schulz to have completed his composition. How lucky for us that he was able to hear and to play out his own special song.
Through his unique genius, Schulz brought us great joy and personal insight, comfort in our shortcomings, and a cartoon circle of friends to whom we could all relate. Since his early childhood, Schulz knew what he wanted to do, and he lived out his life doing it - a labor of love and persistence. Charles Schulz created something unique and of value that contributed much to all of our lives. He was a contemporary example of the creative mind. We feel a combination of admiration, envy, and deep gratefulness to someone who "always knew," who had a dream and a driving passion that he transformed into reality. As a boy, Schulz had an idea, and he played with that idea every day for the rest of his life.
How can we be sure we won't die with the music still in us? How do we find the song? How do we string together the notes we faintly hear from time to time? We all want to be necessary, to contribute something to this world, whether it be finding a cure for AIDS, developing a recipe for raisin bread that no one else can quite replicate, or composing the jingle made up to soothe a fussy baby who, 30 years later, will sing to his own son, not sure from where that music came or how he knows it. We all seek meaning and purpose in our lives.
Composing our lives is really a collaboration of all the lives that have contributed to our own ideas and becoming. Somewhere today in your classroom, center, or family, a few notes are beginning to stir in a young mind. Inaudible to our ears, a chord is forming. We can't know who will be the next George Washington Carver, Thomas Edison, Georgia O'Keefe, or Albert Einstein. Early development is a poor predictor of later creative talent. How then do we tune in to the music? And why is it important to do so?
Ideas are the new business capital. Most jobs today require people who think for
a living. The edge will go to the business with the greatest ability to innovate, to people who can generate fresh "WOW" kinds of ideas. Attitude and motivation are key components of the innovative and competent mind.
Your job, as an administrator or early childhoodprofessional, is to encourage creativity in your staff who nurture the thinking, creativity, and growing minds of the children for whom you all care. Whether in the classroom or in the boardroom, "[p]eople denied the joy of creativity in their work die a little inside. With no need to create, routine becomes monotony then boredom, and, finally, living death" (Blohowiak, 1995, p. 9). When employees are inspired to reach for their potential, the quality of service at your center is enhanced and the
children see from living examples what it means to be creative and competent.
How lucky we are to be in this business, to be among growing minds every day! It is so easy as we go through the school years into adulthood to learn the lessons of conformity. We become so good at
coloring in the lines, remembering that the sky is always blue, the grass always green. How wonderful to be among
children who can't or won't color in the lines, who remind us that just this morning the sky was deep purple with hot pink streaks, that the land isn't always
a green, grassy field, but the "amber waves of grain" we sing about. It is the curiosity of children that compels them to ask of us, "How?" and "Why? Why?! Why!!" Children invite us to see the world from another point of view. They give us the magic to see the world again, for the first time. What more can we do to nurture their creativity, as well as our own, and to keep our schools and centers places of discovery and innovation?
Einstein did not consider himself to
have any special talent, only a passionate curiosity. Creative people have many interests and a passion for pursuing their ideas. Because of this driving force, they are able to persist in the face of difficulties. Creative minds joyfully seek out problems to be solved and abhor monotony. We must look for our
"creative intersection" - the place where our skills, talents, and interests meet (Amabile, 1989). We must
remember that our creative intersection will change over time, especially for children. We need to provide meaning and real-life relevance to new ideas, plugging into our interests and those of our staff and children. Learning, even rote memorization, is not a chore when it is something we care about.
When hiring staff, we tend to look for the necessary skills to meet the basic job description. We must be careful not to overlook a prospective employee's special interests, talents, and sense of purpose. These are the elements that affect attitude, motivation, and passion for this work. These are the areas in which staff contribute the energy needed for growth and innovation. Meeting these needs in people provides the psychic paycheck that money alone cannot provide.
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