Nancy E. Gill

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Nancy E. Gill
Posted over 1 year ago
What ingredients are necessary to help nurture, build and shape our dreams and goals?
Glad to see some of the same names here as in a previous conversation. I have kept a journal almost every day for decades--not to re-read, necessarily, not to save for posterity (I have no posterity),not to publish, but, mostly, to try to stay current with myself. I trust my less-than-fully-conscious self a lot, and assume that my best insights are not likely to be "on the top of my head," just waiting, fully formed, to leap onto the page, but, often, they are NEAR the top of my head, and, as soon as I start writing, they perk up and think, "Wow! She's really going to listen to us again! How nice!" And then they eagerly tumble out. They tumble out best, I find, when I ask a question in writing just before I go to sleep at night, and then write a response to it when I first wake up the next morning--or even in the middle of the night. I also think of some of my favorite lines from , say, Erich Fromm, or Carl Rogers, or A.S. Neill, or Robert Frost, or E. E. Cummings, or - - - so many other people whose thoughts pop up like toast just when I most long to look at them again. I think of Julia Cameron's wonderful activities at the ends of each chapter in THE ARTIST'S WAY All these people and many more are just "there" for me to draw on, all old friends I have never met, except through their writing. For example, from Fromm: "If one is after quick results one never learns an art." Frost: "A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom. The figure is the same as for love. It begins with the first line laid down, runs a course of lucky events, and ends in a clarification of life. Not a great clarification, such as sects and cults are founded on, but a momentary stay against confusion." They have popped up so often and so regularly that I feel as if we and they are very old and very good friends So--I think "For this day only." I ask: "What are my dreams today? I date my remarks, and write the My hand writes. I listen to what my hand has to say, and reflect.
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Nancy E. Gill
Posted over 1 year ago
How can we change the global education system to recognize and reward creativity?
I spent over thirty years teaching English in college. There was plenty of room in my first college for creativity--at least for those who wanted to be creative, but, at my second, it was not valued much, and, sometimes, was really feared and hated. Most faculty lectured, many gave "objective" tests on literature, and sometimes even art professors did the same. I used to dream that it was a factory or a warehouse, and that students were objects on an assembly line.. I taught there for almost three decades, and did my best to make every class I taught feel fresh and new anyway, to both me and my students. and did research that was also new and fresh--going out into public schools and "adopting" entire classes of students and staying with them for ten years, in one case, and four years in three other projects. I often invited my college students to help me, and, one year, sixty college students agreed to become pen pals with ninth graders, and to visit back and forth, and do projects together. It was a great learning experience for all of us. I paid a price for that--of a lot of negative feedback from my department, but it was lively , interesting, fun, engaging, exciting, meaningful--and I'd do it again. I have been retired from college teaching for sixteen years, and now make art and teach art to people of all ages--and write. I figure life is too short to spend it all doing one thing. Am I materially "successful"? No. Am I sorry I made the choices I did? No. Are my choices easy? No. Based on what I've seen and experienced so far, I'd have to say that maybe most people I know don't value creativity very much, prefer to blend in with the masses, and aren't comfortable striking off across the nearest field and creating their own path. Conformity is a powerful drug. It's not easy for many people, maybe, to break the habit.
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Nancy E. Gill
Posted over 1 year ago
How can we change the global education system to recognize and reward creativity?
Enjoyed your comments, and wondered what sort of work you do. I agree that we shouldn't assume that art is the only or best place to put "creativity." Besides, much "art" is imitative, formulaic, predictable, in or out of fashion, etc. Oh, alas, is it true that not everyone likes "art"? Now I'm curious to hear from some real individual people who don't like any fine art. I don't want to assume anything about them. Would be fun to see how they dress, what their house is like, what car they drive, if they have any family photographs, even gardens. I am reminded of the house I grew up in. My father made all the decisions there--what we ate, what we wore, what furniture we had, what flowers we planted, what car we had. We had a chartreuse living room, a purple bathroom, a two-tone turquoise kitchen with a yellow and brown kitchen carpet. My parents' bedroom was caution-light yellow on three walls and forest green on the fourth. They had a white and pink chenille bedspread, and curtains that didn't match anything. The outside of the house was chartreuse on top and forest green on the skirting, to match an old '36 Chevy that was parked out front. We also had a chocolate and turquoise station wagon at one time. I said it was like driving around in a cake, and slid down until my head was not visible when I had to ride in it. My father's idea of "art" on the walls was a framed print of a cardinal from Woolworth's, with the word "Cardinal" written under the bird. For many years, my tastes were for beige and off-white, in protest, but one year I bought a Monet Water Lily print for my living room, and painted the living room walls a deep turquoise to match Monet's water, and bought a white shag carpet and a white chair. I always felt as if I were under water in there. I painted the kitchen brown that year, with white trim, but it was so dark that I couldn't tell if my dishes were clean after I washed them. You could say our family explored art by exploring color.
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Nancy E. Gill
Posted over 1 year ago
How can we change the global education system to recognize and reward creativity?
Topic Two. Find out where creativity is already welcomed and go listen and watch. A hierarchy is probably not a place where creativity happens or where it is welcomed. It can't be imposed, but somebody has to say to newcomers, "We WANT you to think out of the box. We WANT you to work together. This is a cooperative place, not a competitive one. You are not identical twins. We value not just your conclusion, your product, your individual long shots; we thrive on questions, second thoughts, dialogue, experiments, struggles, even failures. Study your failures, alone and together. Learn everything you can from them, but move on, keep exploring, keep listening, keep sharing." Someone has to model the PROCESS. Leaders cannot stand on the shore and order everyone else to swim farther and faster. The first thing you create is a climate that fosters courage, fresh thinking, imagination, play, camaraderie. We need to value mental, emotional, and physical health and fitness in the workplace. Get rid of the junk food, stop being workaholics, think about what nurtures healthy happy productive people and healthy, happy, productive, relationships, and make those things possible in the workplace. Have silence, solitude, leisure, rest, relaxation, just plain fun. Give people room to breathe. Give them fresh air. Give them a lovely environment. Better yet, ask them to help create that environment. At the moment, I have artwork in the Department of Commerce in our state--because a fellow artist who retired from that department suggested that they have art exhibits there. I went to the reception. How amazing it was, to me, to see how horribly ugly and confining and impersonal that building was! And how quiet it was. Cubicle after cubicle after cubicle. Hundreds of people. Dead silence. It was like putting artwork in a tomb. My art (a painting, a photograph, and some pottery) was at the end of a dark, dead-end hallway. I hated to leave it there, where no one would see or touch it.
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Nancy E. Gill
Posted over 1 year ago
How can we change the global education system to recognize and reward creativity?
Topic One. This is a little like asking how we might make a wading pool into an ocean. I think we need some new metaphors, some new ways of explaining and exploring how, when, where, and why meaningful learning happens. It's not a linear process. It's messy, sometimes, surprising, surprisingly simple, difficult, solitary, engaging, frightening, frustrating, delightful, silly, serious.. Teachers and administrators need to recognize creativity, value it, understand it--in themselves, and in others. We can't say, "Let's all be creative now," or "Let's all measure creativity now, so we can see how far we've come, and see who has come the farthest," and all that. Probably there's not just one path. It could be that there are, and will be, many--at least at times. I can't speak for others. Here's a little of how it has been for me. I didn't "get to" go to kindergarten--because my mother was thought to be dying in the hospital when I was five, and my siblings and I were split up and sent to live with relatives. I spent the year with a grandmother who had already raised eleven children and who didn't want any more. My job was to stand near my dying great-grandmother, wait until she needed something, and relay this information to my grandmother. I was to be quiet and still all day, every day. I spent much of my time on the front porch--where I discovered a wall, a floor-to-ceiling bookcase, filled with "yellow magazines" with all kinds of photographs in them. I could not read at that time, and knew nothing about the world, but I learned, at least, that there WAS one, vastly more wonderful and more various than my home town and my grandmother's house. I am a photographer and an artist. This was the beginning. Would I still be an artist if I had gone to "regular kindergarten?" I doubt it. It was a lonely, frightening time, but there was this beauty in it, even though no one at my grandmother's knew or cared. See my website, Helping Kids Hope. Follow links there.
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Nancy E. Gill
Posted about 2 years ago
Kakenya Ntaiya: A girl who demanded school
I am so happy to meet you through your TED talk, Kakenya. To learn of all the things you went through, to see how you have moved others to help you, to see your courage, and your hopefulness, your passion, and your beautiful heart--and to see the joyful changes in the children's faces--these things are just so moving and wonderful.
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Nancy E. Gill
Posted about 2 years ago
Leymah Gbowee: Unlock the intelligence, passion, greatness of girls
I am touched by Leymah Gbowee's TED talk, and by your response to it--and several other responses as well. The question for me, though, is where do we go from here? Thoughts are nice, and when I see them, I feel, "Ah, these are kindred spirits." But if we are kindred spirits, then is it not also possible that we can take some steps we have not taken before, perhaps all of us together, to brainstorm about some small step we can actually take together in real time? If we do that, it might lead to another small step, and another, and not just talk.