It’s easy to trap ourselves in stories that we make up and forget to be open to possibilities. While digitizing a drawing recently, I noticed how easily our minds can be tricked and wanted to share the experiment with you to see how you’d respond.
Take a look at the drawing below, how would you describe what is happening in the illustration?
Now scroll down
Is it what you’d imagined? What story did you make up and how different is it? It’s easy to get stuck in the details and forget to step back and consider alternate plots behind the movie we play in our heads. There’s most likely a story behind every story you imagine so the next time you find yourself spiraling down with negativity, pause and rewrite the script to give yourself and others the benefit of the doubt.
Be curious and seek for the truth.
One of my most passionate topic for discussion is creativity. We are all born with creativity and field experts, George Land, who conducted the NASA creativity test in 1968, Ellis Torrance, known for the Torrance Tests of Creativity Thinking and Sir Ken Robinson, the creativity expert of our time, all produced results that indicate schooling kills creativity. Building on their study and my own observations, I've noticed the diminishing creativity in children and adults have a lot to do with schools and organizations discouraging curiosity. I believe curiosity is foundational to our imagination and creativity is the act of expressing the imagination in a tangible and impactful way. In fact, I think we use creativity as a mean to satisfy our curiosity, hence a tool for problem solving. For example, Isaac Newton's curiosity of a falling apple led him to his imagination of a falling moon. To assess his theory, his creativity kicked in and led to the invention of Calculus to calculate the moon's motion and a new kind of telescope to observe the heavens.
When we limit our curiosity, we limit our imagination, purpose for creativity and passions we need to realize our potentials. My observation for lost of curiosity in adults happened two weeks ago. It started when my seven year old was curious about world's "most famous art" during her art club meeting. She did a Google search to find the answer and it led to a fascinating Mona Lisa documentary on YouTube. At the end of the one hour video, my four year old pointed to an Einstein documentary listed on the right rail. Just five minutes in, my girls wondered away while I became intrigued by the story, particularly when it started to discuss the concept of space and time. This idea that I was interested in Physics theories and laws was new to me because I'd always believed I dislike subjects relating to Science or Math. After processing my newfound passion for the topic, I tried to explain this unseen side of me. What I realized was schooling must've killed my curiosity. It killed it by teaching systems and calculations instead of storytelling and reasoning. My Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Calculus teachers were simply fixed on teaching students in a very linear way, thereby, turning away my interest and curiosity for the subjects.
If you think back to your five-year-old self, you were full of questions and curiosity. Your curiosity led you to do creative things that weren't always appropriate in the adult's eye. We had to be told to stop asking questions because we had too many. Through schooling (and even at home), we are told to avoid asking too many questions, let others have their turns or avoid challenging the authority. The age old school system that became widespread from the Industrial Revolution was not about fostering a curious mind. It was focused on producing a labor force good at staying within the system and being compliant to the norm.
As a parent, I worry about what schools are training the kids for because without curiosity, worlds shrink. Even as adults, we need to unload and reset our preconceived notions of who we are and begin to rediscover the world through a more curious mind. I'm thankful that my motivation to keep the girls creative has led me down a curious path. Amplify your curiosity to cultivate your creative instincts.
Today marks the milestone of 100 videos watched on Skillshare and about six months in since I first started taking drawing and Illustrator classes online. In the process, I found the hardest thing to overcome is feeling not creative enough. It happens quite often, especially when I'm unable to dream up characters and scenes from imagination. Being a late bloomer in discovering this passion to draw, I found that lack of exposures to animation and storybooks as a child is a real disadvantage. However, the upside is creativity and imagination take practice. It means surrounding myself with art I love, strengthening the brain muscles to connect more dots, pay attention to the details and sceneries in life, and learn the technical skills to execute on the ideas.
To help you see what time and practice can do, here's an example of the progress I'm able to make over 6 months of deliberate practice:
Now: After watching almost 100 videos on Skillshare, I'm able to do more than just coloring and starting to get better at creating imaginary worlds. Although I'm not born with the talent and still have a long way to go, I'm discovering that cultivating creativity is like a brain workout. You have to deliberately practice creativity and be mindful of the world around you because every detail can feed into your imagination. Don't let the thought of "not creative enough" stop you from doing more. Keep Making!
I recently watched this TEDx video where Debbie Sterling, founder of GoldieBlox, talked about her experience as a female Engineer at Stanford and the inspiration for her product. In the video, she points out that the lack of construction play among girls can contribute to underdeveloped spatial skills. This type of skill relates to the capacity to interpret, understand and reason spatial relationships in objects or space, such as designing multi-dimensional figures. It was an inspiring talk and I think her insights further support the importance of the maker movement, particularly for girls, to remove stereotypes in children's play and have more access to building and creating things.
As much as I appreciate her efforts, as a maker parent, I think we should continue to find ways to encourage our kids to play and dream up ideas using simple supplies and materials that doesn't limit their imaginations.
It's been a few days since I enrolled in the free brush calligraphy class by Liss Smith and I'm loving it! I'd stumbled across the class online and all it required was my email for registration. Upon registering, you'll receive an email with link to the first class. They are fairly short (under 5 min) and I've been getting them daily in my inbox. The bite size videos work wonderfully since I can sit through each quickly and spend as much time as I want practicing each technique. I find it easiest to accumulate a few videos before you start so you have the option of doing more if you become too addicted (which I am!). It's also a great exercise for when I need to unwind for the day.
Below you'll see that my daughter's handwriting notebook came handy for practicing the strokes and lines. After getting a hang of the alphabets today, we took it one step further using watercolor and paint brush.
Once the watercolor paper was filled with strokes and lines, I doodled a bit for fun. This extension step is highly recommended!
So if you're looking to brush up on your handwriting skills, I definitely recommend it as an entry class to try. The brush pens are very affordable (I got mine for $6 on Amazon) and you can use plain white paper or print out the guided elementary handwriting paper templates, available online.
Sirima Sataman's Studio space
This workspace belongs to Sirima Sataman of ink.paper.plate Press. It was transformed from a raw industrial space located in the Dogpatch District in San Francisco. (via Apartment Therapy)
The Mini Makerie Studio
The Makerie is a creative retreat offering courses taught by renown artisans around the world. The setting below is from a Mini Makerie event with embroidery instructor, Adriana Torres, at the At Hand Studio in Boulder, Colorado. (via pinterest)
lisa congdon's Studio
Lisa Congdon is a San Francisco based artist and an instructor I enjoyed learning from on CreativeBug. (via sfgirlbybay.com)
Urban Outfitters has a collection of consumer brands including the well knowns like Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and Free People. One look at their office space, built from the shell of a dilapidated navy shipyard explains why I'm such a fan of their Free People store design! How can you not be inspired being surrounded by amazing designs and color everywhere. (via Office Snapshots)
Consider the Wldflwrs
Consider The WldFlwrs, a jewelry company's Germantown studio.
POI Sewing Studio
I had the opportunity to visit this amazing sewing studio owned by a young Taiwanese couplewhere you can make custom shirts using industrial sewing machines! POI is located in the Zhongshan district known for its eclectic shops and restaurants, an area worth visiting for crafters!
and more ...
Here are a few more places for inspiration!
I got my husband a projector for his birthday this year and for a while it was just laying around collecting dust. Inspired by summer movie nights, we decided to kick off a kids movie night in our living room on Saturdays. This has been going on for a few weeks now and both kids love it. Our favorites are Zootopia and The Little Prince, both were enjoyable even for adults!
As much fun as it was to watch movies together, I didn't enjoy having them sit like zombies for 1.5 hours every Saturday. I felt the urge to make it "more educational" to get more out of it. So the other day, I decided to ask my 6 year old to write a movie review about The Peanuts Movie she watched the day before.
To start off, we discussed what a movie review is and asked her to come up with a list of things she'd want to share. That became the outline for her to draw out a template. From there, she'd complete each section. Since I wanted to incorporate art, writing and communications in the process, I've asked her to include a section where she'd draw a scene from the movie and record a video of her presenting in the end.
It turned out to be a great exercise to go through since it covered art, writing, communications and video making! Moving forward, it'll be part of every movie night experience and can see this extending to when she asks for more media time.
Kiddos have been home without camps this summer and going to the library is now a part of their routine. Both girls now have their own library cards (yep 3 year old qualifies) and fills up their library corner with books they pick out every couple of weeks.
It's such an easy way to teach littles about responsibility while encouraging them to enjoy reading. It also creates opportunity for my six year old to lead and read to her sister. The process and routine really beats any book that we can buy for them. I have now stopped buying books for that reason. And as a side benefit, it created opportunities for me to check out books too. Keep Learning!
It's been a couple of weeks since I started exploring the topic of computer science for kids and I'm excited to see the momentum building up towards pushing programs into K-12 education. This is largely influenced by support from tech giants, such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft, as well as organizations, such as Girls Who Code, MIT Media Lab and code.org, over the years. Collectively, great efforts and resources have been invested to increase interest and participation among girls.
Since I've been wanting to contribute to the movement, I decided to launch my first campaign focused on breaking down stereotypes. I believe it is an area that requires a lot more investment as perception change is fundamental to removing the barrier. The concept behind the campaign is to generate awareness and familiarity by showcasing programming language as part of a T-shirt design for girls. This helps create a positive affinity for girls who are already learning the language while providing visibility among those who are unfamiliar.
Starting with a small step forward, I hope my efforts will inspire others to get onboard and help empower more girls to innovate and lead in this high tech driven world.
Another important element that made the experience different was having a young adult (could also be a student) teaching the material using simple terms that can easily be understood. For a non-technical and visual learner like me, this teaching method was very effective. It also made me wonder if we're underutilizing what our kids can do.
As I become more conscious about how we learn as kids and adults and observe when we are most creative and passionate about learning, the more I'm convinced that our education needs to evolve into an interdisciplinary approach. Science teachers need to talk about colors and art teachers need to blend in math conversations. Until we can help the child see how geometry plays a part in practical life and why arts, math, engineering and science need to work together, we are depriving our children's curiosity and passion to learn. The value of computer programming as part of literacy will only become increasingly important as it's helping to bridge the gap by training our mind to put the knowledge to use and think vertically and horizontally, across various subjects, when approaching any problem.
For more information about our efforts behind computer science for kids, check out our right brain computing project.
A life observer and maker passionate about inspiring you to live out your creative self.