Saturday, February 14, 2009

"Invasion of the Nazi Zombie Unicorns"

I was directed to this excellent article and would like to quote some bits from it that I really liked. It's written by the children's author Joe Craig.

"To be creative, you have to be wrong most of the time. Unfortunately, being wrong doesn’t go down very well at school. In fact, I think creativity is being educated out of kids when they get into Secondary School, and it’s a big problem...

When I visit a primary school, I’m often bombarded by dozens of ideas that amuse, surprise, entertain and sometimes even astound me. But within just a couple years that ability to conjure up the wacky, the off-the-wall, the daring – the creative – has virtually disappeared...

In the creative world of a writer there is no such thing as a bad or embarrassing idea. So to me, anything the kids come up with is great. But I get a very clear picture of what happens in the classrooms when I’m not around. Gradually, kids are getting the message that certain realms are out of bounds to their imaginations. As soon as you have to check whether what you’re thinking is OK, or safe, or acceptable, you’re being trained to be non-creative... Creativity is not safe.

I would love to see, in the context of an English lesson, the classroom transformed into an environment which rewards wacky, crazy-stupid and yes, even sometimes violent ideas. Until it is, boys’ creativity will continue to be ‘educated’ out of them at the upper end of Primary Schools and the lower end of Secondary Schools. And they will continue to give up on reading.

My favourite story suggestion this week was this: an army of Nazi-zombie unicorns invading from another dimension. Brilliant. That was from a group of boys whose wacky ideas weren’t just tolerated, they were nurtured. And as a group, they were big readers. Their teachers laughed with them, never once looking like they were about to issue any of those terrible phrases I’ve heard too often in schools: “Don’t be silly,” or “Sensible ideas only, please.” As soon as you hear anything like that, you know the very person trying to get you to read, or to write creatively, is actually putting obstacles in your way.

So do be silly. Don’t censor your imagination before it’s even had the chance to get going. When it comes to creative thinking, there are no sensible ideas."

Yes! And if that group of boys doesn't write "Invasion of the Nazi Zombie Unicorns" pretty quick, I think I will!



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