Wherever Curiosity Leads and Creativity Follows — by Mary Stone Hanley, George Mason UniversityPosted: July 9, 2012
There are many wonderful things that work in the education of young people today, however the most deeply positive work can be found wherever curiosity leads and creativity follows. We are born curious; we want to know; from infancy we touch, taste, reach for, wonder; and then we try to make something of it, shape it. In so doing we more throughly can understand it and transform it. Cell phones, automobles, noodles, and rubber ducks, the Sistine Chapel, and hip hop lyrics are all a result of human curiosity and creativy. Wherever that spark is allowed to enter the classroom wonderful things happen. I have seen the children involved and experienced the joy, excitement, and pride of accomplishment when they learn they are capable of answering the questions they wonder about after a process of discovery and interpretation.
The arts tap into our need to understand and to create, to change the world in so many ways–intimate and social, tiny and enormous. The artist, whether wondering dabbler, serious student, or professional is engaged in perception, conceptualization, expression, and transformation of self, culture, and medium, all of which are at the core of making meaning of the world. Because the struggle of transformation and expression is so personal the work becomes relevant and ownership increases. One can see the impact on young people involved in arts-based work in the way they focus and participate. It’s a wonderful thing we must acknowledge, educate people about, and demand room in the curriculum for.
Dr. Mary Stone Hanley, Professor, Initiative for Transformative Education, George Mason University, has been an educator in public schools and higher education for more than 35 years. She is a playwright, screenwriter, and poet. In Cultural Responsiveness, Racial Identity and Academic Success: A Review of Literature In (prepared for the Heinz Endowments, June 2009) she highlights the necessity to employ the arts as a means to racial uplift and building on student cultural assets.