I’ve been struggling with a question for a few days now. And I don’t think there’s an answer. Still, it is simply fascinating to ruminate on.
Last week, my school hosted a Professional Development event run by Project Zero. Teachers all over my school presented their work and introduced other educators to the type of project work that they do with children. I helped run an activity in the art room, where adults were given 25 minutes and open access to art materials to make a magic wand.
At the end, we debriefed. I facilitated in a protocol in which each participant was allotted 30 seconds to speak. In between each 30 seconds of speaking, the group observed 30 seconds of silence. It gave great space for thinking, listening, and reflection.
One of the many reflections that I heard repeated was that each adult felt a pang of nervousness or fear or shyness when approaching the project.
This got me thinking about how the act of creating is a vulnerable one.
It took me almost all year to get up the courage to make a blog because it made me feel vulnerable to share my work.
And that feeling accompanies any kind of creation. Creating means sharing a piece of yourself. It means putting your ideas into action. It leaves you open and exposed.
I think this is something we constantly forget when teaching children. We as teachers- especially in Early Childhood- are asking kids to create all the time. We’re asking them to take risks, try new things, learn to master new skills, and to do so all while also putting out work and art and buildings and ideas.
I left this discussion thinking to myself “How can I make sure to be more actively aware of this condition and sensitive to the kids’ needs as they experience it?”
We then adjourned back to the whole group and met back up with all the other workshops. The leader, Jim Reese, invited us to consider 3 things: Connections we made, Things we learned, and questions with which we were wrestling.
I shared my new realization with an Autism professional from my school. Her being firmly tied to the strategies room on a different floor means that she’s one of the rare individuals with whom I never get to interact. I turned out to be very glad to have sat with her.
She accepted my idea, supported it, said, “That’s really profound.”
And then she turned me on my head. She said, “What if that vulnerability is a learned behavior? Think about it. Maybe kids are so free and creative and uninhibited because they haven’t learned to fear the vulnerability that comes with sharing your creativity. So what if the challenge isn’t to be sensitive to the fears they’re feeling, but to make sure our language doesn’t incite self-consciousness and encourage anxiety?”
I agreed with her and connected it to my newfound comfort with worms after 28 years of fearing creepy crawlies.
I think that no matter what, you can’t take away the fact that sharing of yourself creatively means leaving yourself wide open.
I think what is up for debate is whether that openness necessarily equates to vulnerability. Does it really leave you open, exposed, and in danger of feeling embarrassed/wrong/inadequate? Or does it simply open you up to possibility? Does all the fear simply come from our self-imposed needs to please/be right/do it the best? And if the danger attached to being creative comes from inside our heads, how do we get rid of it, and how do we keep ourselves from raising kids to think that way?
I don’t know. I’m still debating.
What do you think?