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Sarah Begum

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Teachers vs Young, Creative Minds and Balancing the Curriculum

When I was 11 years old, I would make hairbands, scrunchies and purses out of different fabrics and then sell them at school for 20 pence. I was always a creative kid. I would watch "Art Attack" then save cereal boxes and recycle them by making stationary boxes etc. I knew I wanted to do something creative when I was older but wasn't sure what exactly...

I went to school with my latest fashion design - a purse I made from violet fur and stitched a pattern on it. I was so proud of it! All the girls at school liked it and I wanted to show my teacher what I could do. So I took out the purse out from my bag and said, "Sir, look what I made! Do you like it?"

The teacher replied, "You know Sarah, this won't get you anywhere in life. You need to focus on improving your learning at school and being better at maths and science. Ok?"

I was so disheartened as his words tore out a little girl's dream.

As I grew older, I discovered that you didn't need to be the best at maths and science to survive in this world and that a creative entrpreneurs are making small ideas into huge profitable realities.
At 16 years old, I became the youngest fashion designer and model for a fashion company my brother got me involved with and from there, I had a few more fashion shows to showcase my designs - this time garments.

I would think back to what that teacher told me once upon a time and smile that I made it further than his words could ever discourage me to do so.

Has anyone ever had similar experiences with their school teachers? And how did you make it in the real world?

Maybe the curriculum needs a lesson for children to spend a whole hour making plans to achieve their dreams?

I think it is so important for primary school teachers to be both creative as well as academic otherwise there is an unbalance in the learning system and this could effect how a child is programmed to think and grow up.

How many schools in the world actually have this balance in the curriculum?

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    Mar 18 2012: Not long ago industry and some schools adopted the 20% factor. 20% of your time is alloted for you to do what you wish ... follow your dream. After the total embarrasement of the PISA exams, the US in in the mist of the largest cirruculum change in the last 50 years. The really bad news is that it is about national pride and not about the student. Teachers will be even more constricted to teach the test and not be able to provide individual attention. This shotgun approach or knee jerk reaction is federally inspired with threats of withdrawing funds to anyone who objects. With this action our government is inspiring cookie cutter teachers and predictble students in effect killing creativity just like Sir KenRobinson spoke of. This action promises the demise of brick and mortar schools and the acceptnce of on line for profit diploma mills. This effort to "fix our problem" may well be the single bad decision that will lead to our educational demise as well as killing creativity. Best of luck. Bob
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    Apr 11 2012: I am glad to find such an interesting discussion. I am glad for generator of this topic.

    We should not omit the fact that every one justifies their action to be correct , even a criminal. A teacher always feels what they are doing is right for all and so do students.

    In my opinion , learning classes should also be held for teachers in d form of workshops every now and then to keep them aware of their role.

    Education is learning how to learn and surely Vedic Mathis , speed reading and memorising will do great deal for the studens and give them more time to persue their creative instinct.
  • Mar 16 2012: If there is a problem it's that school is a melting pot of different personality types that don't necessarily work well together.

    Each of us has a strong instinctive drive to propagate our memetics in those around us. This drive is especially strong with children and I imagine that is because it brings a greater good to parenting of our species since, for all of it's faults, being driven to turn our children into little versions of us will make us teach them more and invest in them more emotionally. I've simplied a complex subject, there is so much more to it than this...

    Conversely, I believe that nature counters this with the well known phenomenon of childhood rebellion.

    I believe that evolution has discovered and refined a balance between these two contradictory forces which is most beneficial for our species.

    School is never going to be all things for all people but I certainly agree that it could be better than it is.
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    Mar 14 2012: The term "primary school" may mean something different in the UK than in the United States. In the US, "primary school" would cover children from about age 5 until age 10 or maybe 11. I would guess only on the basis of my experience rather than citable research that primary school teachers in the US are as interested, certainly, in students' creativity and self expression as they are in what I think you mean by academic learning and, in fact, are frustrated that standardized tests pick up mainly the latter. I think any teacher who looked at something like your purse and said to you what he did would be considered out of line by his peers and the school administration.The need to prioritize creative, adaptive minds and dispositions is widely, widely accepted as a high or the highest priority among educators.What differs among educators is how to get there. Most educators would argue, I think, that students should be encouraged to become literate and to be able to think in a range of subjects rather than to specialize very young in any one. To shut out math, for example, or to shut out writing, as some cihldren might be inclined to do without guidance, doesn't seem a good strategy in terms of her fexibility in the future to choose from many interesting experiences and directions. It is a huge priority among primary school teachers to get children to give the various subjects all a good chance just as parents and family doctors want children as much as possible to eat a balanced diet and to spend their days in a miixture of activities, both mental and physical.
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      Mar 15 2012: Thank you :-) Of course you make sense of the past to me now and by the way, I'm really good at maths now ;-)
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    Mar 14 2012: Sarah, what you are telling us is not only happening between teacher and student but on all levels of life. Employers stop creativity and initiative of employees, parents often do the same with their kids and so on.
    There is a nice story you perhaps already read or even watched the movie. It's Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.
    The story is about a seagull that just isn't satisfied anymore with the life of a seagull and tries to become better than it's peers. Eventually the seagull succeeds but at the price of being banned from the community.
    What I liked about the story is that it tells you not to accept ANY limits. Some limits appear to be real, especially if everybody around you tries to make them real. But unless you really try, you'll never know. So just go with what feels right to you. You will make mistakes. That's unavoidable, but eventually you will succeed if you really have the passion for it.
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      Mar 15 2012: Thank you Harald...sometimes I do feel like that seagull...
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      Mar 15 2012: But impossible is a barrier of the mind :-)
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        Mar 15 2012: it is....... at least more often than not. In any case, one never will know what is and what is not possible until he tries. In the worst case you fail, but even then, you probably still learn something on the way.
  • Mar 14 2012: As a teacher I suffer from this ongoing horror that there is some student wandering around repreating some fairly off hand remark I made that had a negative impact on their life. Truth is one negative comment can reallly hurt a child, but it can also really motivate them. It can give them the chance to question their perception against that of an authority figure and determine if they will accept it.

    This teacher may have been callous with you. But, so many of us are so weak in math that many teachers struggling to teach it it may simply have been a moment of frustration. I dearly love creative folk and do what I can to support them. But, gosh if you're gonna make 100 purses you need to be able to figure out how much material you need and what your costs will be....

    He would have been better off encouraging you and then showing you some example like that for why you need to learn his subject matter.

    I struggle with this because I feel the burden of being a teacher accutely. I also was ecently told by a student that he did not need to learn anything because if there was anything he ever needed to know he could just google it. The ability to understand that google was not a force of nature seemed lost on him. The need for technical knowledge to keep it alive or improve on it seemed lost.

    I am also guilty of grading mid terms right now which often depresses me, sorry.
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      Mar 15 2012: I agree with you we need maths in life and I'm not complaining about it, in fact, I am really god at maths. I just didn't feel the need to totally cut out my subject and focus ONLY on maths and the other academic subjects.

      Good luck with the papers and thank you for your comment :-)
  • Mar 14 2012: I agree with your observation. I think kids do not need to memorize as much and instead teachers should encourage kids to be able to focus more on applying creativity and basic skills to engage in concrete projects where they can learn more about team work, failure and success etc.

    However I think it is important for kids to also learn math, physics and other subjects with focus on understanding the basic principles than memorizing formulas.
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      Mar 15 2012: Yes, maybe there should be innovative ways of teaching academic subjects and relating them to real life situations.
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    Mar 14 2012: It basically depends on the quality of Student as well as Teacher !
    What is the coordination between them !
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      Mar 15 2012: All teachers are examples of an adult to all students and so I don't believe that it is just the coordination that should be focused here, it's all other factors too.