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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Do Leaders Fear the Artist?

As I find myself at the beginning of a different focus for my writing and reflecting, I am reminded of something from my past. The artistic, free-thinking (which may be the only kind), counter-cultural, non-conformist is seldom appreciated for the work they do until they are gone. They leave a legacy. I'm okay with that.

I do not see myself as a person particularly artistic. I can't draw, play an instrument, sing, dance (although my wife and I are going to begin next Spring, once she is out of school), or do anything most people would consider artistic. But I have always appreciated the work of those who are artistic. I look at art in a very personal way...I know what I like, and can tell you why I like it. I know what works...for me.

I wish teachers had the freedom to choose to find the things that work for them. The "scientific approach" that most teachers feel forced to follow restricts their ability to find what they are good at in the classroom. I wonder if the reason so many teachers leave before five years is because they do not have the courage, or encouragement, to find what they can do well in the classroom?

I am not in a traditional classroom any longer, but I have been told by the people whose opinions count most to me, my former students, that I did a good job. I wasn't like other teachers. I was fun, fair, and was able to motivate my students to do their best. I hope that is somewhat accurate and true. I still teach, just from the position of a media specialist. I promote reading, research, and self-interest learning. It's not the same as being in the classroom, but I still get opportunities to do what I do best for young people.

I have known for years that I do not fit the traditional mold of a teacher. I never wanted to fit that mold. When it comes to teaching, or preaching (man, that seems like a loooong time ago - late 1980s-early 1990s), I did not find it effective for me to follow the "examples" of others. By that, I mean I did not do well when I tried to copy what others did-and were good at doing. I tried to copy others for about five years into my adult life. I was miserable and ineffective. I chose to change, and I began doing what I was good at doing. I was happier, more effective, and began to get noticed for my work. I did not really enjoy the getting noticed part. I think that is the character of an artist. My art is seen in the lives of my students and athletes. I am a motivator for young people. Frankly, I have "given up" on motivating adults...they already have their minds made up, and I consider it a waste of my personal talent to spend much time trying to change their minds, behaviors, or practices.

I have always believed that God gives us talents, interests, and opportunities to develop skills. I have been blessed because I believe my God-given talent is to work with young people. My personal interest is to work with young people, and I have been given opportunities to hone my skills in how to be effective working with young people. I have little more for which to ask. I am motivated by people who have found their calling, because I can relate to the emotional satisfaction that comes when you are doing what you know you are on earth to do. So I offer one of my favorite, motivational videos, which happens to be a commercial for Apple. I think the reason I like Macs better than Windows-based computers is because they promote the work of the artist - they help people Think Different. I appreciate that.

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