I was reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Rob Bell. His most recent work, “Drops like Stars”, takes on the role suffering plays in creativity. Bell notes that our most creative moments are when our traditional options are no longer viable. When we have no other way out, we are forced to invent new ways out.
A part of this book talks about how creativity is often called “thinking outside the box”. However, Bell notes that thinking outside the box is limited because there is still a box. He argues the most creative individuals are those whose attitude is, “Wait, there’s a box?” He then goes on to note that our most creative moments are when our boxes get smashed. Sometimes having our boxes smashed puts us in a necessary position that we would not have put ourselves.
This is how I see the standards & NCLB movements in education. In large part, I do not agree with many of the standards, or the high-stakes testing, but I was not happy with the current state of education. What the federal government has done is to smash our boxes (something I think was necessary). Now the question must turn to what kind of box we will build for ourselves out of the rubble. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a box. To pull a metaphor from another of Bell’s works (Velvet Elvis), perhaps we should build ourselves a trampoline – trampolines are inviting and encourage reaching new heights, boxes are closed off and inflexible.
Which of your boxes do you need to smash? What kind of trampoline are you building?