What We Do With Free Time

In the roughly one-third of the day that is free of obligations, in their precious ‘leisure’ time, most people in fact seem to use their minds as little as possible. The largest part of free time – almost half of it for American adults – is spent in front of the television set. The plots and characters of the popular shows are so repetitive that although watching TV required the processing of visual images, very little else in the way of memory, thinking, or volition is required. Not surprisingly, people report some of the lowest levels of concentration, use of skills, clarity of thought, and feelings of potency when watching television…the information we allow into consciousness becomes extremely important; it is, in fact, what determines the content and quality of life.

-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychologybof Optimal Experience

Being Successful – Write It Down!

Today I have been brought up short when it comes to planning my workshops for Project: Preschool. I have many wonderful ideas that I would love to implement, but so far I haven’t felt that any of them have had a cohesive enough message to pass them on to others. But through the course of the day I was reminded of the most important rule for success:

IF YOU HAVE A GOAL, WRITE IT DOWN.

This goes for anything! Any kind of goal you have, write it down. And then make a web or a list consisting of the steps you need to take in order to reach your goal.

Writing down the outline for my first workshop has helped me turn a workshop that I have always felt good about (but not good enough to present) into a workshop that I can’t wait to present. I plan on making a business plan this way, too, so that I can physically see the steps that I need to take in order to make Project: Preschool successful. The power of writing down and brainstorming goals is amazing, and I highly encourage anyone to try it for a goal they want to achieve.

Getting the Creative Mind to Work

I ran into this article today, and it really spoke to me. It talks about doing what you do, day in and day out, whether you are in the mood or not.

One of the best lines in the article, to me, is “The notion that I do my work here, now, like this, even when I do not feel like it, is very important. Because lots and lots of people are creative when they feel like it, but you are only going to become a professional if you do it when you don’t feel like it. And that emotional waiver is why this is your work and not your hobby.” This quote was by Seth Godin, and is apparently in the book that they are talking about in the article.

I may have to check that book out. I will let you know how it is after I read it. For now, I guess I have to get to work!

George Carlin on the Creative Process

 

Is this anything like the creative process that you go through? I know it is for me. I get so wound up in my own creativity and wanting to accomplish something that I burn myself out and go for months at a time without accomplishing anything. Maybe I can learn something from this guy!

I would like to add that I do not take any credit for, nor do I own, this video.

The Spark

As I sat writing my last post my mind began to go back to all of the wonderful things that I have started throughout the years on this blog: the “Look at a Book” review idea that generated only one review; the posts about applying Conscious Discipline in the classroom; a scattering of surface-level diving into different topics of interest to me; and a smattering of posts dealing with psychology and philosophy as it relates to early childhood education.

Don’t get me wrong; I am thoroughly proud of what I have accomplished. But I can’t stop thinking big. Somewhere at some time after I wrote my last post, a spark ignited in my brain and the creative juices began to flow. My brain began coalescing all of these independent accomplishments into one big picture because I am passionate about all of these pieces, and somehow I new that the pieces fit.

Have you ever experienced the spark? It seems to light up your whole being as you begin to think about “what could be” and what is needed to turn “what could be” into “what is”. Anything seems possible and dots seem to connect themselves.

Have you ever seen a child get the spark? As a teacher, you talk to them about something you are learning about and they make some connection and they are off! As a teacher, I love those moments and I try to milk as much learning and expression out of them as I can. Those sparks are where true learning and creativity happen, and rolling with those sparks makes the time spent learning that much more enjoyable for everyone.

Imagine your life if you could not follow those sparks. There are plenty of teachers out there who, for one reason or another, can’t follow the sparks that ignite the children’s creativity. The pressure to pass standardized tests makes it hard for teachers to have time to pursue meaningful, internally motivated learning opportunities.

Due to the emergence of my own creative spark, Project: Preschool and Uplifting Freedom with be celebrating creativity for the month of June. We will be exploring what creativity is and how we as teachers can cultivate and encourage a spirit of creativity in the classroom. We will explore the role of curiosity in creativity and take a look at some prominent thinkers and pervading attitudes concerning creativity. I am truly excited about this journey, and I hope that you will join us.

Integrity

“I hate incompetence. I think it’s probably the only thing I do hate. But it didn’t make me want to rule people. Nor to teach them anything. It made me want to do my own work in my own way and let myself be torn to pieces if necessary.”

– Howard Roark; The Fountainhead; Ayn Rand

I love my job. I couldn’t imagine not doing what I do for a living. I want to expand on my knowledge and continue to try to excel at what I do. Eventually, I want to be an educational psychologist. I have wanted to study psychology since I was fourteen years old. I have since found that my passion lies in how people think and how they learn. I am fascinated by the subject; I am so truly passionate about it that the idea that others in my field are not is unthinkable to me. But while it is unthinkable, it is an unfortunate reality that I deal with all of the time.

When one of my coworkers encouraged me to begin teaching others the knowledge that I have, at first I was hesitant. I know the reality that is out there: that there aren’t very many early childhood teachers out there that are as passionate as I am about my work. The last thing that I wanted was to open myself up to ridicule or other disrespect toward my chosen field. But I also found the idea of teaching others intriguing; I felt that if I could teach them what I know, then maybe they would become as passionate about it as I am.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out how it really works. Since a certain number of training hours are required per year for all early childhood educators, people came regardless of whether or not they actually wanted to be there. Most were participatory and respectful. At the last training I did, however, it was different. I saw what I had feared: blatant disrespect and mockery of what I love so much. It put me in a position of defense, when I find that I don’t have to defend myself in my work on a normal basis. It cheapened everything, and I knew that I had made a mistake.

It has taken me one long month to figure out what my mistake was. I knew the reality of the situation: that there are very few early childhood educators out there that are as passionate about what they do as I am. And yet, I thought that I could change that reality by offering my passion on a platter for anyone to partake of. I forgot that, in the process of learning anything, the passion must come first. People, just like children, must be intrinsically motivated to learn the subject that you are trying to teach them. When they are being forced to attend trainings simply to keep their job, there is no motivation to actually learn anything. And this is the part of the equation that I forgot about.

I offered my passion as a sacrifice to those who would take advantage of it, and they did. The effect has been devastating on my professional morale, as I have struggled to regain some sense of that passion. I know it is there; I didn’t sacrifice it all. But I realize that I lost some of my personal integrity through the process, and I now have to work hard to regain it. Realizing that you cast your precious pearls to those who do not appreciate their worth is a hard realization, because you have to admit to yourself that you sacrificed the most important thing to you to those who did not deserve it. But being able to admit that to yourself is the first step, and ensuring that it never happens again will help to strengthen and regain that sense of integrity that was lost.

I, for one, will ensure that it will never happen again. I have a path that I want to take and a dream that I want to realize. I will do everything that I can to make sure that I reach that dream, and I will not let the swine around me deter me from that dream ever again.