On a road trip recently, my husband and I passed a mountain range covered with wind turbines. They were actually quite beautiful and engaging to watch. I stopped to photograph them and started to think about all of the different authentic projects they could inspire. Building a model demonstrating how wind turbines work. Exploring other sources of unlimited energy. Learning about some of the problems with the turbines. Proposing solutions for these problems. Controversies? Other sources of unlimited energy… Sources of limited energy…
I then remembered a beautiful quilt that a friend of mine had made of wind turbines. Yes, it is an unusual quilt, she does unusual work! So, the wind turbines inspired her to create a work of art. Which then led to other quilts showing different sources of energy, and her most unusual quilt to date, toxic waste drums – it is an absolutely gorgeous and unique quilt.
We have always allowed adults to take a topic and run with it. Not only in art, but in science, math, business… Actually, this is encouraged in places that value creative thinking. Shouldn’t educators be encouraging the same thing?
We are educating children for jobs that don’t even exist yet. They will work in environments, doing jobs, that we probably can’t even imagine. Ingenuity and creative thinking will be mandatory for them to prosper. So, shouldn’t we be not only letting children, but encouraging them to look at something and explore it in a way that is meaningful to them. Look at a question or a problem, and then tackle it with as much creativity, and divergent thinking as they possibly can? Take the road less traveled. Diverge, create, branch off, discover, explore…Authentic Learning.