Creativity and Credentials

February 10, 2005

A teacher must be an uber-artist: creative, certainly, but intuitive, tireless, knowledgeable, empathetic, and flexible as well. In any given week you may be called upon to invent a new game, diffuse a social conflict, work 60 hours, conduct scientific experiments, soothe the fretting parent, or build a forest out of cardboard.

When standing in front on my class I often feel fortunate for having been trained as an artist and not as a teacher. In art school I was educated in fortitude and inquisitiveness. Those qualities seem far more useful than curriculum comparisons or grading techniques when I try to craft a lesson that integrates music, mathematics, and world history. As for tests, classroom management, and communicating with parents— those things that a teaching credential theoretically prepares you for— well, most of those can be navigated with a resolute compass of compassionate ethics. I don't know if learning them is nearly as effective as living them.

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Above is an image of an animal classification card game created by a colleague at the French school. This photo was taken before we sat there for an hour and cut out every single laminated card.

It was a very effective way of teaching the names of animals in French to a group of American students and, like most card games, was exceedingly adaptable— provided you had the creativity to adapt.

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