I wrote this blog post as I was working on The Man Who Planted Seeds, a revised version of the Jean Giono classic I’d fallen in love with. The post appeared on a former blog of mine, The Art of Learning Fun, designed to inspire creativity in the classroom.
Ever read The Man Who Planted Trees? If you haven’t, I’d highly recommend it. It’s very short—only 50-some pages, but packed full of beauty, imagery, metaphor and symbolism. While there are many sub-themes, the main one, I think, is hope. And I cannot think of a better time to nurture hope than now.
My adoration of this short story led me to investigate its author, Jean Giono, a little further. And I came across this truly inspiring quote by one of his biographers, Norma L. Goodrich: “Giono praised work done in solitude, where creation originates and, especially in humankind, where the free expression of compassion and pity begins.”
It made me think my earlier post, What a Difference an Arts-Rich Environment Makes, in which I touched on my daughter’s hurtful experiences at a school that devalues the arts—and in doing so, creativity of any kind.
How can children’s spirits be nourished if they are not encouraged to be creative? I believe bullies are born in such environments. The kind of environments that favor competition over open-ended discovery; results-based academics at the expense of creative expression.
And as I said in my earlier post, it’s not that I’m against academics. Academics are absolutely necessary to an educated and productive culture. But I also believe the arts are critical to our children’s future for their inherent opportunities to develop perseverance, creative thinking, supportive team-building and cultural literacy.
Why not give our kids a half an hour a day to create something in solitude? Instead of looking at these creative breaks as invasive to the academic agenda, why can’t we combine them? Why can’t we give our kids a chance to choose to do a drawing, write a scene, choreograph a dance or write lyrics about a subject they’re studying?
That’s all I’m saying. And I believe that’s all Giono was saying, too.
Banner image by congerdesign.