Notes on Creativity and Culture

Culture has always offered me a powerful nexus for interpreting and exploring themes of learning.

My first experience of this phenomenon was aptly child-driven. In my second or third year of teaching, my full day casas came to me and announced they were doing a play … The Wizard of Oz. Not only had they planned it and cast it, but they suggested using language and arithmetic as tributaries of their endeavour.

We spent the year creating script books with pictures and dialogue. We designed word problems relating to yellow bricks, numbers of poppies and wind velocity. We used dance and gesture to explore emotion and enhance our story telling. The sets, painted on giant fridge boxes, were fought over by parents. We invented songs and lyrics using the bells and rhythm instruments. We explored history and geography using Frank Baum time, the prairies and mythical topographies as inspiration.

Our community coalesced as parents volunteered to create costumes. It was an eye-opener into deep learning, the importance of the arts, the power of story and collective narrative and it changed my life. Now, working with elementary, junior high, and student teachers, creativity and culture take a central role.

Yellow Brick Road from Wizard of Oz - Pirate Ship and Bedroom Window from Peter Pan in backgrounds

A prepared environment that includes various media, rhythm instruments, fabric and scarves, space and nature, provide powerful mentoring opportunities.

Here are some other student-led surprises:

The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity. - Amelia Earhart

From Ovid's Metamorphoses using Mary Zimmerman's interpretation as inspiration - We rehearsed and filmed on the Oak Ridges Moraine and added student innovation including original poetry in Esperanto. We reawakened ancient ecological messages - timely today.

Portrait of Hippolyta by R. from A Midsummer Night's Dream - filmed in parks during COVID

Promotion pieces from our Junior High Production of King Lear

The visual and dramatic arts become a conduit to our relationships with our selves, our culture, and our planet and iambic pentameter acts to retune the drums of mind and heart.

Each year we make a Shakespeare Movie. COVID threw us some challenges that students rose to with amazing resilience and innovation. "It takes courage and a sense of play to inhabit some one else's skin."