Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Creativity and Innovation - and a fine dessert recipe!

  When I was a kid, my father used to tell a story about a dude he met on a plane who was down on his luck, with a look on his face like the weight of the world was on his shoulders.  As seatmates, the conversation quickly turned to the proverbial...

"What kind of work do you do?" he was asked.

"I'm an inventor."

"Wow!  What do you invent?" he was asked.

"That's the trouble,"  he replied, "I'm struggling right now because everything has been invented!  There's nothing left to invent!"

There you have it.  The world, according to that guy, was complete.


Creativity and Innovation -

(Necessary Ingredients for Blogging Without Prompts)

  Fortunately (or unfortunately, but that's a dilemma for you to decide) that stymied inventor was alive prior to Al Gore's invention of the Interweb.  Either that, or he clearly did not own a cat, as this gem of a craft book wasn't written until several decades later.  Think of it.  Aside from the cost of kitty litter and cat food, the basic commodities necessary for such a lucrative business, are fairly inexpensive.
Today I spent the day in Harrisburg, as part of a "Working Committee" for the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).  We were inventing.  I'd like to think that we were inventing something that is somewhat more valuable than fingerpuppets made from felted cat hair, but that really remains to be seen.  A bit of background - Pennsylvania has a section of school code referred to as Chapter 16 which outlines what should happen in the world of gifted education.  The reality is that all of the shoulds and coulds are pretty much wishes and dreams, because there is no funding for gifted education, and in this age of "everybody over the bar", there is little in the way of societal influence for those who are in the advanced achievement range.

So it was exciting to be part of a group of 18 professionals from across the state, representing teachers, administrators, universities, the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education (PAGE) and PDE working to establish the criteria necessary for a Gifted Endorsement that could be added to teaching certificates.

 As I was driving home, I made a phone call on my new speaker through the car device to the most creative gifted educator I've ever known.  Mel retired from teaching seven years ago, yet she is ever-present in my thoughts, especially when I'm working with educators who "get" the gifted and talented population.  As we talked, seven years melted away, catching us both up to realize that we are still passionate about this job.  They say everything changes and somehow stays the same.  That's the way my conversation with Mel went today.  I'm hoping that the work of the committee today actually gives other teachers the same level of passion and enthusiasm that Mel and I share for the gifted kids.  What a wonderful world it would be....

While the committee was working, it was interesting to watch the language of the educators at the table as we created a proposal using googledocs.  "SCAMPER" somebody whispered.  And we sort of eyed each other up and did just that.  We word-smithed and fine-combed the entire process, all the while recognizing the need for creativity and innovation in both how we were approaching our task and in the competencies designed for teachers pursuing the endorsement.

Educators are like that.  Life, and living, is often cased in what we do as educators.  As a classic example, I give you the fine work of another dear educator in my family - my cousin-in-law Chris - and his family.  Who, based on family legend and his blog, created the dessert version of the holiday favorite, the Turduckin, affectionately known as the "Cherpumple."  Seriously, go check it out.  You won't believe the creativity and innovation.  And you may need to be wary of dinner invitations from my family.

So yes, creativity. Innovation.  Gifted Education.  Today was all that, and more. It was amazing.  It was enlightening.  I came away from the day with hope for the future of gifted education in Pennsylvania.