Saturday, October 11, 2014

Incubation.

 I teach gifted students in a Lancaster County high school.   In addition to working with individual students on schedules and learning opportunities that meet their unique needs, I also am responsible for designing and implementing a class known as "Themes in Literature."  Each semester the topic changes, and the direction of the topic is based upon individual student interest.  This semester, we're focusing on "Thinking Like da Vinci", which is loosely based on the book by Michael Geib.  In addition to the class for credit, there is also a non-credit opportunity for any interested student that occurs in my room on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 am.  It's sort of a "Themes in Literature" Lite version, exploring the topic and allowing the GATE population to continue the conversation in the cafeteria, the band room, the bus, or online via schoology.  This week we watched a short video as a means to consider da Vinci within the context of our own lives.  It's easy to grab the attention of gifted kids with a title like "da Vinci Was No Genius."  It's true that old Leonardo spent SIXTEEN LONG YEARS as what we'd view today as the loser kid living in his parents basement.  And while we don't know exactly with whom he was living, the reality is he wasn't very successful.

Incubation and Multi-tasking

So here's the real deal.  Yes, we're talking da Vinci.  We are talking about him as a framework for a greater personal understanding.  The reality is there is not a lot of time reserved for thinking these days, especially on topics of personal choice.  Leonardo perfected this art, took the time, and is now viewed as the master of masterpieces. 

Will there ever be another artist as great as those of the Renaissance? 

Regardless of your appreciation for cherubim and seraphim, or Putto with Dolphin, or the smiling Mona, you have to recognize the brilliance in the work ethic and effort.  For sixteen long years, da Vinci was Incubating. 

When you ask most people about incubation, they instantly flash back to the warming light and fuzzy chicks in second grade or at a farm show somewhere in the fall.  Artistic incubation is really not all that different.  It's that do nothing time where your idea is consciously, or unconsciously, working through resolving what isn't working in the project at hand.

In a recent piece for Mindshift, Annie Murphy Paul examined "How Does Multi-tasking Change the Way Kids Learn?"  I couldn't help but wonder, in addition to the decreased learning effects, what is multi-tasking and technology doing to the potential for greatness possessed by our learners with regard to their own potential greatness?  

Is it possible to focus on something -- or NOT focus on something to incubate in true Renaissance style -- to find the greatness within?

I'm incubating on THAT this weekend.  I invite you to do so as well.