Unbabbled Episode 1: Creativity
How Creativity Can Empower Children Who Learn Differently, with Dr. Ron Beghetto
Professor, author and creativity expert Dr. Ron Beghetto shares his advice on how parents and educators can help children utilize their strengths and develop confidence by allowing space for creativity within structured learning experiences.
Guest info, including bio, books and publications: http://www.ronaldbeghetto.com/
Stephanie: 00:01 Hello and welcome to unbabbled, a podcast that navigates the world of special education, communication delays and learning differences. We are your hosts, Stephanie Landis and Meredith Krimmel and we are certified speech and language pathologists who spend our days at The Parish School in Houston, helping children find their voices and connect with the world around them. In this episode we'll be speaking with doctor Ron Beghetto, professor, author, and internationally recognized expert on creativity. He also serves as an advisor for the Lego Foundation. His research focuses on creativity in everyday teaching and leadership. Welcome. Today we have Ron Beghetto joining us. Meredith Krimmel is here in the room. Ron, welcome. And we'll start off by having you gave us a just brief introduction to who you are, what you study, and your main area of focus.
Ron: 00:56 Great. Well, I am thrilled to be here. Absolutely fantastic campus. There's so many exciting things going on here. It's brimming with creativity and that's great for me because that's what I actually study. So my name is Ron Beghetto. I'm a professor of educational psychology and Director of Innovation House at the University of Connecticut. I started my professional career as a classroom teacher and then I've been working in education, looking at creativity and innovation and try to support that learning.
Stephanie: 01:27 So you mentioned you're the Director of Innovation House. I've never heard of that. Can you tell us a little bit more about what that is?
Ron: 01:32 So, at the University of Connecticut, like a lot of universities, they recognize that the first couple years of college are really difficult for some students. And, and so we see a lot of kids actually waiting in the first couple of years. So one of the strategies that the University of Connecticut has something called learning communities. And this is an opportunity for students to select an interest area and get to me, the students in a smaller space actually live together all kinds of different activities and even people across different majors. So we have houses that are focused on certain majors like engineering house, women in Science House, Eco House and innovation house is really special because it's interdisciplinary. So could we, someone who's an English lit major and a computer scientist or somebody who's undeclared and they all come together and we work on these projects that I designed called legacy challenges.
Ron: 02:26 And so it's an opportunity for them to identify a problem that matters to them, identify a way to kind of address that problem and partner with people in the university community and beyond. And then most importantly try to make a lasting positive contributions work. And so that gives them a chance to connect with their learning to use and experience the university in a way that many first and second year students don't. So a lot of these students, have started companies that can get funding, they've done project, we started, there was like half the kindness club that a group started that wasn't there before. So here you see freshman and sophomore student things that juniors and seniors maybe don't even get a chance to do or even Grad students. So it's a really good way to jumpstart their own kind of voice, their identity, their career, and some students end up changing majors as a result of exploration, which is kind of really exciting.
Ron: 03:15 So that's what that's about. And it's kind of based on work that I also do in k 12 schools. So those same things, legacy challenges, that kind of exploration, putting learning tocreative use is something that I've been working on in k 12 spaces as well. Clearly here at Parish School, there's a lot you can see there's a lot of emergence and exploration. I was looking at the community garden and hearing a story about how students were working on that and then how younger students just kind of emergently got involved with the wheelbarrows and dirt and everything. So that kind of thing I think is really exciting to see. And just giving kids an opportunity to express themselves in different ways and unexpected ways. That's what creates the innovation at this level are really all about,
Stephanie: 03:56 yeah, here at The Parish School we've been trying to bring in a little bit of that in just the classroom. We work with kind of a specific population where a lot of our children, all of our children who come to us either have a background with a learning disability, a communication difficulties and a variety of other things that some times impact their ability to use their knowledge in really functional ways. And we've been finding that things like project based learning or legacy type challenges really help them bring that side out of them. Can you explain a little bit more about how a legacy challenge l in middle and elementary type classes?
Ron: 04:35 Absolutely. So I think it starts out with just asking kids what's something that you're interested in or have a concern about or an issue that you think is really important and maybe, and this is a really powerful part of this question and maybe it's something that nobody else even sees as a problem.
Stephanie: 04:52 Yes. Can you see their role absolutely completely differently than we do and things that they are like, this is what's making things hard for me I would never thought of. Absolutely.
Ron: 05:01 And so sometimes yes, we as adults are educators or parents, um, are doing things that we think are being experienced really possibly by young people. And sometimes they're not. There's unintended, unanticipated things and giving kids a chance to voice that and identify things that, um, you know, sometimes adults don't even see as an issue is a really powerful thing. It's a really empowering way for kids to say, okay, this is something that, you know, maybe you don't see, but it is impacting me or it's impacting my friends. Or I'm seeing this every time we drive to school in my community and it really worries me your father's name. And so it starts with that. So these projects are really for students by students. And the Nice thing about them is it requires them to partner with other people so they can still work alone in identifying a problem.
Ron: 05:50 But eventually they're going to have to partner with to help them do this. So experts that they now maybe their family or partner with people in the community or the school or other kids or young people to kind of really think through how we're going to address this problem, who this problem impacting, why does it matter? What will happen if nobody does anything about it? And then really thinking about it from the outset of how can we sustain the work? So what happens when you move on to another school, for example, who's going to carry this work forward? So thinking about sustainability, the beginning, all those things can happen at the youngest level, right? And I think part of what we sometimes do is we underestimate what students are capable of, especially students who may not be able to communicate in ways that other kids can, if they still have really powerful ideas, is they're given an opportunity to express themselves in a different way of work with other people who collectively they can give voice to these ideas.
Ron: 06:49 And I think we can really see how remarkable some of the ideas that students have and, and the work they can do. Yeah. So I think that's part of it is just, you know, I always say we don't know unless we just, you know, give them an opportunity. So you can't really predict what some kids are capable of. And I think that's the great part about this is so surprising to see kids who might struggle, you know, a variety of different settings all of a sudden just come forward and really shine when they had a chance to be supported in pursuing a problem that they really care about it.
Stephanie: 07:19 I think also one of the best things that you touched on about kids needing a different outlet than typical. I often see in school set me have all of this wealth of knowledge and background and they do research but the end product is typically always like a written report. Yes. Or a verbal presentation and they don't always feed into the strengths that the student has. And that might be for our kids getting their ideas out and physically writing on paper can be incredibly difficult. Or teaching that and speaking in front of a group with their language difficulties where they may have articulation difficulties is something that gives them more anxiety and they can't really show all this wealth of knowledge. And I particularly love about things like legacy challenges and the inquiry based learning is that it allows them to develop a way using their best strengths to figure out how to show their knowledge instead of just like circle this test or write a two page paper.
Ron: 08:19 Yeah, I really, I agree with the, I mean I think these kinds of opportunities, what kinds of learning experiences really do allow and require students to play to their strengths, but also to work on areas that they want to work on it, right. Things that they want to grow and to really challenge themselves and to develop the courage and confidence to say you don't want, it does terrify me to kind of stand in front of a group and try to kind of communicate this. But it's such an important problem that I have to say something. I try to communicate in some way. Right. And so I think it, it Kinda is that both hand that even allows kids to express them their own strengths but also to develop strengths and become aware of that confidence. And I agree. You know, one of the challenges with school is we typically have kids doing the same thing the same way at the same time.
Ron: 09:05 And any outcomes because they're usually predetermined by the teacher or whomever. Our outcomes aren't really things kids want to hold onto. Right. So it's kind of like it's macaroni art phenomenon. I can a moment like okay great, but then it ends up in a dustbin. So thinking about can we build a project that we care about that it can live on and then we'd be proud of that isn't going to just be foot, you know, in the garage or in a trashcan. But living out in the community and that's something else I've seen here at her school is focused on community. Yeah. The different ways that's kind of clean out, which is really great. And that's what these kinds of experiences like legacy challenges are about too, is they really do push learning beyond the walls of the classroom and bring community members in a meaningful way, partner with kids, um, and to kind of carry the work forward as well. So it's exciting to see the things that are already happening here and kind of all the possibilities. And so I think these kinds of things can really enhance what's already happening and just really, I think allows us to stand back and see, wow, look what these kids are capable of doing if we just give them different ways of expressing themselves.
Stephanie: 10:13 So with creativity, do you think that that's something that every child innately has or is it something that we have to teach to the children? I know that many times people have one narrow view of creativity. Can you give us your kind of creativity and what it might look like in our children? So that's a great question. I think, yeah,
Ron: 10:33 there is a lot of, you know, different conceptions about what is creativity. Is it about the arts? You know, we hear people and we may even see this ourselves, like, oh, you know, I'm not a creative person. I said that all the time. Right? And so, um, in the field of creativity studies, it's been going on. There's about a hundred years worth of work in the past six years or so. It's been really systematic work. I think it was just a generally clear consensus is creativity is a human capacity that we all have. Good. And one way to, one way to think about it is it really is simply so the way most research is defining in a way I kind of define it so that it's really accessible for everyone, is it's really just about doing something differently. So meeting some goal or criteria in a different or unexpected way.
Ron: 11:21 So if you think about it that way, we're being creative all the time. And when you're stuck in a traffic jam and you know, maybe take, find a creative way to get to where you need to go, right? Or right when you're cooking and you're out of an ingredient ingredient, um, you're gonna have to kind of think of a different way to, to kind of still make the dish or when you're solving a math problem, coming up with a different way to solve that same math problem, right? So in any kind of human endeavor, we can be creative. And so absolutely. Now, one of the things that we don't always have to be creative. So, you know, I was flying over here from Connecticut and the last thing I wanted to hear as a pilot, come get in a routine flight and say, you know, there's a routine slide. We're going to have this body of water. I'm gonna try this afraid of water land.
Ron: 12:07 But again, of course is the plan was in trouble then. Yes. So ours, it is knowing when and when not to be creative, knowing that you having the confidence of being creative, um, and naming it when you are being creative. So I think part of it is just an unawareness and creativity is something we usually define after it's happened. Yeah. So it's hard to say, oh, this is going to be creative. If it's emergent, you don't know if you know in advance what the creative outcome is going to be there in Canton Creek. Right? So it's usually after the fact. And so in that way, if we think about it that way and say and help ourselves and students meet young people, we work with our own children's in here. That was a really creative way of doing that. That's a different way of doing it, but it still meets the criteria. So it's not just kind of a free for all. It's still works within constraints. So creativity, lives and constraints. I think one thing that can help us, especially in education is, you know, the slogan, think outside the box I think is problematic because that sounds like chaos. So really it's often about thinking creatively inside the box and sometimes building a new and better box. Right? So it's creativity is this both hands, originality and working within the constraints, meaning the criteria, doing something meaningful that is successfully not just doing something different, just to be different.
Stephanie: 13:26 I think that that definition definitely brains are a lot of adults and for many of our kids what creativity is because you're right, a lot of times people think of creativity on the ass of the arts or dancing or people come up with these wild things that these children really aren't any creative every day in different ways. And you know, it reframed how I think and I'm like, no, actually I can't be a creative person creative all the time on a regular basis. And if I can reframe that for me that I can do that for the kids and have built up their Vicky and their self esteem and hopefully help them take more risks and feel more confident in coming facing these challenges and knowing that they can work through, so to speak a lot about uncertainty is helping them through our kids. Sometimes they like routine and you like having a focused outcome and they like knowing what's coming and they get a little more anxious when it's uncertain and feel like they can't meet those expectations, that they aren't creative. But I feel like if we are looking at creativity this way, we can help them look at it that way and know that they can go through uncertain about next.
Ron: 14:39 Absolutely. Yes. I mean I think just this campus alone, so that really awesome adventure area. And that's your playground playground where this is kind of unstructured. And I mean I think as know, looking from the highs where parents might be like, oh my gosh, that looks like, it's interesting to see what the kids, what's important to them, what's important to them and how they can use that space. And it's a very uncertain kind of unstructured or semi structured space. It has a structure to it. And I think that's the key is, is this blend of introducing uncertainty was still providing structure and support. So that's, that's how we can help young people become confident in responding creatively to uncertainty is not just throw them into the deep waters of uncertainty because that's, that can be bad uncertainty when they don't know how to ask for help or who to ask for help or, you know, what are the criteria here, you know?
Ron: 15:34 And plus they have to try to do something new. So I think the key is to provide that kind of structured and supportive context and then say, man, I try to be your own thing here. This is a chance for you to explore and try things out. And if you need help, this is how you can get it. Um, I miss the how much time you have. And so you can have some general structure. There was still providing an opportunity to put certainty. And I think that also speaks to the idea that, you know, in the field of creativity studies, we talk about how important context is. So kid, um, who is in the context of one particular classroom, doing something very creative, helping them learn that, okay, if this is something you're really interested in to be considered creative at the next level, at the professional level, right.
Ron: 16:16 Um, it's gonna take a lot of years of practice and learning. You know, if you've been injured, if you'd like building and you want to be an engineer, then yes, you're going to have to learn, you know, if it's an experience to go to engineering school, likely. Um, and so that's how you kind of become creative at a level that's recognize at a professional level, right? So there are different levels of creativity that depend on context. But at the, at the kind of smallest, and I think most important level, we're being creative until we learned something new. So anytime we have a new person, a meaningful experience as creativity, and when we share it out and somebody recognizes that our kitchen where we cook something or in our classroom, then that's like little secret, right? And so that's happening all the time. And that's usually what we'd want to really focus on with kids.
Ron: 17:02 But we also want it to help them aspire to higher levels of credit to say, how can you make a difference in the world that other people will recognize it, benefit from. And that's where we get to a case of now we meet expertise, we need opportunities, that kind of thing. So I think helping kids see that full kind of spectrum of possibility. Um, learning from people in that community. Okay. So what do you do in your work? How do you approach uncertainty in a creative way as a professional? And who are some legendary kind of creators in these different disciplines? Whatever it is, art, science, Matthew Dance. And so kids can kind of see themselves on this kind of trajectory. I enjoy dance and I'm creative here, but if I want to become a professional dancer, it's going to, it's not just me spinning around, I'm going to have to spend some time learning the discipline of dance. Right? So I think that's a helpful thing too, is realizing that it takes a lot of work, but still you can, you can experience it right now and you are experiencing three right now in your everyday life.
Meredith: 18:01 So you mentioned traffic and then being creative to find a way around. And that made me think, well I would just open my navigation app. So what are your thoughts on technology and how it impacts creativity?
Ron: 18:10 Yeah, that's a great, that's a great question. Um, I know there's, people sometimes feel like technology's Welson creativity cause you know, I have a daughter who's in middle school now and he, she definitely spends a lot of time, screen time and it's very, it seems very passive. But I think the thing to remind ourselves and our, and the young people are our own kids or students or whomever is the great thing about technology now is it's not just a one way street, right? So yes, kids are spending a lot of time consuming content and I think we want to get a model for that. But the thing that technology offers is a way to actually produce and create new content, right? So you see kids putting forward all kinds of great ideas, developing youtube channels, actually making creative contributions throughout the world, right? So I think it's about kind of looking at it in a more balanced way to these are opportunities.
Ron: 19:04 Like any tool, it can be used, um, you know, in a problematic way. And it can just be use in a passive way or can actually use to leverage and your voice creativity, right? So that can be a mechanism where kids can really express themselves in different way. Technology can do that. And so I think it's, it's important to have those conversations with kids and not just immediately rejected as, oh, this is going to stifle creativity. My kid already spends too much time using devices. There's not, how do we use these differently? And the other thing is like we type up the macaroni art, you know, so I know you have a loan maker space here at the University of Connecticut in our innovation. So we have this beautiful makerspace and something like that isn't going to guarantee creativity allowed a three d printers basically just printing out high tech macaroni art.
Ron: 19:54 It just goes in the dust bin. So what does it stick? A chalk could be the most creative thing in a skillful hand, right? So again, I think it's not necessarily the what is, how you use it, right? So how are you using these tools in a maker space? How are you using it? Through the printer or are you using it as an end unto itself? We're actually to do something creative and making contribution and so in that way this a really long winded way of just basically saying that I think there's a ton of potential with being crazy with technology and it's just about being thoughtful about it and having those conversations with young people about how are they using those and what are some possibilities for using them in more creative way.
Stephanie: 20:33 Right. Every year we had a graduation ceremony and we have many kids last year when they said when they wanted to do, when they grew up they went into code video games or the wanting to be a youtube star. Definitely not an option. I was graduating at an elementary level, but that is something that I agree that we can use technology and Arie had this once and desire to be youtube stars with parental controls as you can, but they can gain that background knowledge and develop something that they deeply care about. Say it cooking class and lead a cookie instruction or showing kids how to code or build and use that to get their interest and put it out there into the world or they can make their own podcasts. Right.
Ron: 21:22 And I think that's one of the frustrations. A lot of young people outside of the formal learning spaces, they aren't creating content all the time and they're actually using content. What's out there in creative ways. So you know when my daughter was younger, she used to make broke, DIY stuff hurts. She has this American girl doll collection making some accessories for those dolls herself by going to youtube channels and learning from kids her age how to make these little accessories. And then she goes to school and she has no opportunities to her third grade class of worksheet, which I loved. Teacher wasn't too happy because there just wasn't, you know it again, yes there are things you need to learn and very structured and sometimes routine ways. But we also need to provide opportunities for these openings for kids to express their understanding of different ways and still meet the criteria.
Ron: 22:25 I think that was her frustration and she's still kind of has that, there's just not many opportunities to express your own understanding of your own way while still being criteria in school is folk. All the lessons are over planned, right? The problems have been preselected. The solutions to those problems are predetermined. The outcome of solving those are predetermined and the criteria to be determined. So there's really, I feel like a lot of young people feel boxed in and then they learn that that's what school is about. And then when they get to like the university or go on on the workforce and you ask them looking at the year, I think they've never had a chance to do that. And so it's like just tell me what to do and how to do it.
Meredith: 23:06 And collaboration, getting to college and having to do these big group activities and group projects and a lot of students still don't have a lot of experience with that.
Ron: 23:16 It's terrifying. So what I've learned, like at the universities, I, I start my class out in a familiar way. They understand the game of school, like just tell me what to do is how to do it. And we know how to bake bread. And they know they figured that out. That's why they're there. And so it's really disruptive to say, actually you come up with your own problem to solve or how about I'll show you one way and you can show me in several different ways to solve it. And so a lot of students have had that kind of experience. And what I've learned that even at the university level, we have to kind of slowly move them into that and let them kind of take ownership of their learning.
Ron: 23:52 But we could start that in preschool, right? Yes. Right. I mean it's happening already, but we can be more systematic about it. Right. And I think I've seen here, and it's, I just finished my tour in Europe here at school, if that's happening here, right. You could ask their own questions or they're making out with beings are doing their things in our own ways. Um, and so it's really exciting to see. And that didn't happen at all levels. But I think unless we really make sure that happens, then we are preparing them productively and positively respond to send their child.
Stephanie: 24:30 How can those listening at home support that and encourage creativity?
Ron: 24:37 Absolutely. So I think part of it is just just watch and listen to your children and see what are they interested in and if they're interested in things you're doing. So I love to cook for example on. So my daughter would often show an interest in that. And so wanting to show her techniques, especially if we're like cutting something, you know, which is usually quite high. Usually ended up cutting myself when I was trying to show her safety. But I think showing like, okay, let me show you one way of doing this, but what if you came up with your own weight or what's your own idea? So creating a little opening. So I think it's okay to start with a pretty structured experience and suppose even if your kid wants to be a youtube star, like okay, getting involved with them, he has sneaked down next to him and saying let's try some practice things.
Ron: 25:24 And so, you know, providing a structure of support for them, but then encouraging them increasingly to start taking it over themselves, right? So that could be one had a cook in the kitchen, learning how to do something in the garage, learning in the garden, just giving them more and more space, but always letting them know that the structure has a force there. And so what I used to talk about is provide the structure first and then start removing from the pieces like, okay, we're going to cook this dish tonight, but next I'm gonna Cook. Why don't you come up with a dish? What is something you wouldn't be? And also your process for doing this. And then maybe you can think of your own process, right? So you can kind of do these different blends of what are you going to do? How are you going to do it?
Ron: 26:05 But what is that going to look like? And giving, turning that increasingly over to our own children while still providing the support and the safety rules and all the criteria are still in place. So that's what I mean by this kind of uncertainty within support structure so we can still give them experiences with uncertainty, which I think is increasingly lost. That's why I love it. Then what does it complicate things or playground? I mean that was like a flashback to my child. We'll go ahead and go play and come back for dinner if you want to eat, good luck out there, you know that kind of thing. But again, you know, doing that with structure. I think there is this kind of balance that we still want to find support, which are very important, but creating opportunities where we don't know how it's going to necessarily turn out, but we're there to make sure it's not going to be a complete to La. But I think learning from those failures and being okay with it, I think that's another key thing is how do we learn how to work through the pain and disappointment of failure and setback because that is part of the path.
Ron: 27:13 Any kind of creative resilience, resilience play, they always say they use the lightest touch possible, which I really like. It's really child led, but they're there to support with the lightest touch. Exactly. Yeah. That developed in and started using, I'll use it in a worksheet, the worksheet, the workshop with the teachers here, um, is something that I called my favorite failure. And so if you're having, you know, if you're teaching a class or maybe this is something, the conversation you have with your own child as you're waiting in traffic or whatever, starting out by telling your own story of your own favorite failures. And so I use that favorite failure as kind of of this really paradoxical blend that it is a failure, but it's your favor and, and why is it your favorite? So it's just a set of questions of, okay, what's a time when you failed?
Ron: 28:07 What happened? What did you feel during that time? So you can talk about native emotions and maybe how painful that was. Um, what did you learn about that situation and what did you learn about yourself and why is it your favorite? And so if we could tell those stories for our own children or students, um, and, and just kind of make that transparency, we go through it and it can still be painful, but he can still learn from it and benefit from it. Then when our kids have those kinds of experiences, we can kind of have that framework to talk through it. Right? And so if we're asking kids to take risks, I think it's important that we are willing to be with ourselves and then we're willing to share those stories that when we took, listen, didn't work out, but how we still learn from it.
Ron: 28:49 So that's the key is, especially in an educational context, one of the things I have, innovation has this little motto of this may not work, but we're going to learn from it so that we can always learn from any kind of setback as long as we're kind of reflective. And it had those kinds of opportunities to talk about it. So the presentations we have at the end of the year at Innovation House, you know, it is about the, what they're, what they've developed. Like I said, some people develop companies or project or service projects or whatever the case might be. And some of the projects don't ever work out. It was kind of crashed and burned. But everybody talks about what they learned. It's an exhibition of learning. So it's more about what was the process, what did you learn from the process? So everybody gets a chance to talk about that.
Ron: 29:34 But regardless of if your project is funding now or just never took off. So I think that's we can have as parents to our own children is have those honest conversations. Um, and so, you know, things like growth mindset, all those things are great, but it doesn't help in the pain of the moment. Like, great, I didn't make the team, you know, you tell me not yet. It's not helping me right now. So I think appreciating that, yeah, it can be creative work and incur the learning cancer country painful. Um, and that's part of the process which you can still learn from it. Right.
Meredith: 30:12 So we've been talking so much about creativity, creativity, what led you down this path?
Ron: 30:20 I mean, I think, and again this is all kind of retrospective as all creativity is. Um, but you know, it came from a variety of sources. When I was a little kid seeing my dad who was an inventor and jeweler patents and he would come up with these little solutions to everyday problems. Like he made this little grapefruit spoon, these things, all these meetings. But what I also remember is, you know, our extended family kind of mocking him and how painful that was to watch as a little kid and watching how he just kind of went into his own shell and he's still shared out some things just among the immediate family, but my extended family. And so that was a memory and that I'm in, I've actually looked at that and some of my work, what I call credit mortification, these moments that are kind of shaming moments and you know, people just kind of hang up there, dance shoes or they put down their, their poetry or whatever the case may be or stop pursuing whatever cause aspiration they had on the sports field or whatever.
Ron: 31:24 And so we don't usually hear those stories. We always hear the people that's overcome us at the setbacks. But I think those stories are really important. So how can we help people, maybe a back up the dance shoes, even if you know you're not going to be part of a huge major ensemble or something, maybe you can stand for yourself. Right. So I think those are still moments that we can explore. So there was definitely that, um, maybe my own aspirations and struggle is trying to be like I was writing poetry after my dad died, he died and that kind of just helped me for whatever reason. I don't know why. I started writing poetry and I got an angel of a teacher my senior year of high school and she really encouraged me. And so I had aspiration to be a poet, but same sort of thing happened to me.
Ron: 32:08 I had published poets professor just, they be very honest, brutal, brutally honest feedback. It was just too much. And I just was like, okay, I can't devote to a stop. Those kinds of personal experiences. But then also as a teacher, seeing my own students do programs, I caught us at the mind just come alive after school. It's like what? Where were you two hours ago? Right? What's going on here? Right? And so those kinds of things, I'm just kind of came together. I didn't creativity at any point in time. So I went back to Grad school. The first time I ever heard of like creative problem solving was this parts of the mind team that might be as we coach. And so that's when I was like, okay, there's something to this and why isn't this happening every day school day? Right? Why aren't we, there has to be a way to infuse this in there.
Ron: 33:01 And so that became my kind of academic search to figure out how can we do both head? How can we still, you know, teach kids, but we feel they need to know, but also give them opportunities to create an expression. So that's kind of, again, a long winded way of saying these inserts are I think anything that we passionate about I think come from our own personal experiences as well as our interests. And the same is true for me because I hang up their shoes but pulling back off to be something different, cause we all hear the story about Michael Jordan, right? Like you didn't make the junior high team but he tried. Now he's like the most famous Nba star of all time. But most people's stories are more like okay that didn't work out so maybe I can do it in a different way. Yeah, I think that's maybe stories that should be shared more I think in his parents or teachers or coaches. Um, cause it's critically important to provide honest feedback and it's, it's as much maybe as a discord for more, but the service to just kind of tell somebody like, oh yeah, you are the path.
Ron: 34:04 Or we see that come crashing down pretty rapidly. Right? It's about providing honest feedback and saying you're not there yet and it's going to take a lot of work. And you may not give, you want to go with this, but you can't get better. I think that's the key. That's where like the work on like growth mindset. Um, but it is painful and, and recognize it might be painful or if you are not going to make the team or yes, you're not going to go with the traveling dance troupe or whatever the case may be. But if you want to get better at it as a way to do that, I think the message, you know, my own work looking at this is when they hear that you're not good at what you think you were good at, then you just give it up. You feel like, well there's, there's no chance of getting better and it's so painful. It's so experienced in the shame of that moment and thinking you can't get better. Why would you ever again, but you don't want to feel that again. And it's, you know, you don't feel like you can get better anyway. So I think the message has to be, look, you can get better afterwards and we don't know what's customer turn out, but you're interested in getting better. This is how we can help you do that. And I think that's that. That was not what my family was saying to my dad.
Ron: 35:15 And that's not what my professor was well intended. It said a lot of teachers aren't just basically like if you weren't no John Key, right. And so just the simple thing of like, but you could get better at what you're doing if that's what you're interested in. But that little tiny message there, and it wasn't because the social, as a bad teacher, I think it's just sometimes we just don't even acknowledge that that's how that's been.
Stephanie: 35:45 Right? Yes. And that is something that's very important. I mean, we have a lot of children who struggle with reading struggle with some of the basic math, but they have these grand ideas and fantastic capacity to learn and they start to feel that even as a young age, they're like, I'm not good at reading, so I can't be this. Right. And being very cognizant of that and try and show, as you said, the long game of like, look, it's not there yet. You write reading is hard, your brain makes reading hard for you. But that's why we're here in practicing this. And in the meantime we can also work on developing this area scale, which will help you and you can always get back. I can always get better in this area and that's why we're here practicing. And we definitely acknowledge that it is hard and it's hard for them and their feelings are valid, but we still see that potential and try and let them see that potential in themselves so that they can keep going. And I think that it's frustrating for the kids and I know it's frustrating for parents and it's hard to go through that daily slog.
Ron: 36:53 Brutal. I mean, it's so painful. I know in my own, my own daughter when she was younger, just really struggling in that. And so trying to use all this like, you know, you can get better at it. It doesn't help when she's around kids who are crushing it. Right. And so she's like, there's some kids that are just like math wizards. They just, they get done so quickly and how to make any mistakes. I'm just, I can never do that. And so something that kind of help was, there's a couple of things in health, but it takes time. Right. And so what I, what I kind of stumbled upon his head of his conversation with her about, okay, so you think those kids were just like born doing because nobody's in that way. So I probably, I don't know. Right. And so I said, okay, so you're great.
Ron: 37:41 You know all this about American girl dolls. I mean she could, I'm like, who's American girl doll of the year? And she's just like names, name, like all the, apparently more than you might really, you, you were like little expert on this stuff, right? I said it. Does any other kid in your class know as much about this as you? Those are the kids that are like super great at Bat. Oh, absolutely not. Okay. So guess what, Olivia, when they were doing their math, you were learning about American girl dolls, right? Right. And so, like when you were learning about American girl dolls, they were practicing their math, right. So that's what they became good at. They just spent more time on it and they've gotten better and better and better. And now I'm not saying that, you know, you will be at the same level as that, but if you want to get better, just like you run more about, you know, American girl dolls, right. And so having that understanding that it's not magic, right. You can get better and it's more productive to think about your own progress and how it relates to other people. But that is so hard because we were in such a comparative society. Right. And you're sitting next to other kids and you just look and see what is this other thing.
Meredith: 38:56 Right. When I was an elementary school, they had the rocket ship math thing, you know, for your times table. Yeah. And like, you know, the kids climbing up and not me, you know, at the bottom. So yeah, comparative society. I mean they're in one of her grade.
Ron: 39:18 Yeah. We are building up, well the cycles, the same sort of thing is just like please follow up. I don't you just see that even have the little reminder everything like one, right. A little verse psychosomatically
Meredith: 39:28 yeah, good intention. Yes. But not necessarily the motivation for every student.
Ron: 39:33 So I think it, it is for those of us that are educators as parents as well as this kind of thinking about how our kids experience these experiences. And again, just being honest about it and tried to have as many different ways in different conversations about how can you, if you want to get better at this, you can get that right and less, less monitored. That improved. And there, there are going to be kids that are, there may be better. That's just the way it goes. Right. But it's not about that. It's about you getting better. Right. And so I think that, um, my daughter had this great teacher in math who at the beginning of the year at this big dot dinosaur called, but she called like the Qantas or us. Yeah. And so, and it was basically a paper with a trashcan. He asked the kids like, I want you to write down something you can't do and see the Qantas or, and be the last time we feed the cat disorders where I can say Qantas, Qantas sources spread for the year without the trashcan.
Ron: 40:32 And so I'm just trying to get better and trying to really focus on improvement. But it is, it is not easy. There's no simple solution and it's painful and I know, um, you know, just don't want to go school a place where they get shamed. Right. And so it's really hard for parents. It's really hard for kids. I think having supportive teachers and people that are aware of this and can understand that, you know, the reason why this kid started school so many days is not because they're screwing around or something. They don't want to go back into that classroom. Right, right. Because too difficult for them. And so can we find a way to help them see improvement and develop their confidence, um, in relation to their own prior performance? I think that's the most we can hope for in any endeavor. Right. That's a great outcome. That's a huge success. We can get better each day, then we're living well. So I think that's a great thing for our kids to know as well.
Stephanie: 41:34 I think that's one of the reasons really like having these projects that they can work towards or hanging a little bit of wiggle room and even your simplest activities or worksheets and making one day not as predetermined is it. Then we can help them kind of use their areas of strengths and how to work on these areas that are so hard so that everything doesn't have to be a struggle fest. That they can, you know, piggyback off of some of their areas that are really great strengths so that yes they might be having difficulty with reading and reading comprehension, but they may be fantastic at um, drama and performance and that they can use that side of it to show that they are making gains in their reading or being forced to read and comprehend. I script apprehends so that they can go do that act. It gives them that little bit of motivation to work through the hard to show all bare areas of strengths.
Ron: 42:32 Everybody can't be doing the same thing at the same time. Just like any project, you have to kind of break the word apart. And that's when kids can play to their strengths. And the Nice thing about that is they can be proud of like, yeah, that is something I'm really good at, right? Whatever it is. And the other kids can recognize that as well. So it helps other kids see that even though, you know, when we're reading this kid might struggle with that, but when it's acting or whatever, analysis can really shine. Right? So I think it's important for other kids to see a more nuanced picture of their peers as well. And for the teachers to see that and for their families to see that, you know, there are, all of us have our strengths and our weaknesses. And so I think it's important to give people, especially kids, opportunities to play their strengths as much as possible while still working on areas where they want to improve on. But you know, I think that's where we can really showcase strengths is through any kind of project like that or any activity where we just open up different ways of kind of meeting those goals.
Stephanie: 43:32 So that kind of shifting that kind of thinking is a little bit of a shift. I mean we are in a time where we want every school to be an eight class school. We want every kid to get learn the same clothes. I seen concepts to get A's, we want every kid to do this. And, and as a parent you worry that your child isn't going to learn enough to score high enough on that star test or that standardized tests. Um, have you found that parents have a bit of anxiety for the project base? The legacy project and learning
Ron: 44:13 Arbonne is just being a little bit more nuanced. Just stay away from the extremes.
Stephanie: 44:20 You keep mentioning both. And, and I, I love it. It's like balance everything you talked about as a balance.
Ron: 44:26 Because if you chase after all these test scores and everything, I mean I think the truth is there's so many different ways to be successful, especially because of the technology and the things we haven't even imagined the pathways the kids can take. So I think test scores and so on are preparing them for one kind of narrow pathway. It's still isn't even a guarantee. I mean going to college, you know, beyond guaranteeing, I don't know what the under antenna, if you might still end up in your parents basement, you know there really are no guarantees even what with that. Right. And so I think it's really just about trying to see what, what are some of the strengths and passions of your child and can you create some opportunities for them to pursue that and have conversations about like, yes, we value these things in school and learning these things, but we also value what you're interested in.
Ron: 45:26 And so can we, can we recommend that there are probably multiple pathways and we can't predict accuracy whether pursuing one is going to be better than the hour. And so I think trying to prepare kids for multiple possible outcomes by trying to support their interest while at the same time, you know, having, cause I think it gives security to say like, yeah, we could have a look at my kids spouting off all these human memorize concepts or whatever, but we have to think about to what end to what end. So I think we don't want to overdo one or the other. We don't want to completely abandon that. And even if they are studying for a standardized test or any test where there's one way of doing it at one right answer, maybe just taking 10 seconds and say, okay, I know that you have to memorize this and this the way your teacher wants it, but can you come up with a different way of how you might use this another way you might solve it even though you wouldn't do it on the test.
Ron: 46:27 We try to find those little openings to kind of expand the way our students approach. Even things that have, there'd be rewarded for one right way of doing things. I think that could be another way of just pushing them to open up new possibilities and realize there are different multiple pathways and they can lead to happiness and success. Right. So I think the key is happiness is what we want for our kids. We want our kids to be happy. And I remember having a conversation with the preschool teacher of my daughter's phone consent. I think it's great that you're trying to get them to be pleased. Peters and my daughter's doing math, but she's not happy and you know, I want us to be happy right now in this space. You know, she's out of the house for the first time. It's really hard for us. It's hard for her if she could just feel happy and cared for in that space. That's all we ask. She's going to get plenty of math and reading. You know we do stuff with her at home, but if you could just make sure you know that she feels welcome here. That's more important as a parent. Right? But I think what my goal for my one year old son was at their diesel and I was like that he is happy.
Ron: 47:42 Absolutely. That's a key to happiness. We tried to do other things, but if you're happy you're not being happy to do something else you've arrived. I think just keeping that in mind too, can we find ways to help ensure that we want the best experience of life and a happy way and doing things with others as well. And I think it brings it back, but you were talking about having college students come in and they're used to doing school, but it's that huge jump of doing something rote and routine and predetermined and then you get to your job and even say like accounting, sometimes you have to be creative as I'd never crusher. And as a speech language pathologist or teacher takes a little solid in problem solving minute, hourly, like there's a huge jump from like memorizing something from a text and then jumping into the water and that's something that we can start teaching the kids right away age so that they're not floundering in college or their first year of work and feeling completely unsuccessful because they've only learned how to memorize facts and spit them back out. Even a few, I've worked with some teachers who are required to, even in a situation like that, I think you can still find ways to open and maybe teach kids one way of solving a math problem. You give them 24 practice problems and practice that one way you've taught them what if you gave them 12 how about you come up with 12 different ways of solving this one problem, schools usually about use one way of solving a problem and you get 12 similar problems.
Ron: 49:47 So now you're, you're not only rehearsing one way of doing it, but you're kind of expanding the breadth of the possibilities. And I think when he do that, he shared that out of the class. A kid who could solve it, you know, four ways now sees eight different ways and maybe a teacher knows 10 ways learns to new ways, right? So even the teacher can learn in that space. So I think we can give this this both, and I had a concept, you can still do what you're required to do, but we never did more time. His parents are teachers. So how can we use our time differently? We just create a little space that is not so over plan, not so we're structured and give opportunities for our kids to do something and develop their own confidence and now give certainty from the earliest age. And I think we do that sometimes it just happens. But I think what he did more systematically, I think we would see the benefits or almost at a time. Do you want to ask your last?
Stephanie: 50:43 No, I just had, we had a few questions that we're hoping to ask every guest. Okay. My first one is the first question that we're asking every guest at the end of this episode is if you had one piece of advice, the one minute elevator Spiel, advice to give parents, what would it be? And it can be anything from like eat your vegetables to listen to your mother. What's your best?
Ron: 51:10 I would say if we expect our children to take sensible risk, right? I don't think it's fair to ask them to do so if we aren't willing to do so ourselves. So I think we really have to model sensible risk taking, creative expression in our own lives if we're going to expect.
Stephanie: 51:30 Which is hard as a person who is slightly perfectionistic, who I seen that I am raising a perfectionist, nay have had to go out of my way to show her in my shoulder and my own mistakes and try and bring it into the classroom as well. Yeah, that's great advice. Thank you. Well, this has been fantastic. We can sneak it in. Let's see. Um, what inspires you?
Ron: 51:55 There's so many things that inspire me. You know, what inspires me is seeing when I, when I designed like a learning experience, just seeing how people taking a completely different direction and how humbling that is as a teacher or a parent to see young people doing things that are so unexpected. I learning from from that. That really inspires me to think like, okay, there's so much potential that we just leave on the table. Is there a way that we could really capitalize on that opportunity for you to continue to amaze us and inspire us? So I think that's what's inspiring is when I had a general sense puffin quite turn out, but you know, my daughter were students. You see that citations, that's always inspired.
Stephanie: 52:46 Nice. Well we thank you very, very much for being our first guest on our podcast. We appreciate your time and I'm going to myself go back through and listen to this because you had a lot of really great information.
Meredith: 52:59 Yeah, great advice. Thanks so much for taking the time.
Ron: 53:01 Well thank you. And be sure to encourage and take beautiful risks.
Stephanie: 53:02 Love it. We hope you enjoyed this episode of unbabbled. For more information about today's guest, please follow the links in the episode description.