Over at Generation Yes the emphasis is on empowering students with technology. But yesterday there was a post that applies to a much broader spectrum of learning.  8 big ideas:

  • Learn by doing
  • Technology as building material
  • Hard Fun
  • Learning to Learn
  • Taking Time
  • You can’t get it right without getting it wrong
  • Do unto ourselves what we do unto our students
  • We are entering a digital world.

And though it’s base is in technology, and the teaching and learning of technology, all eight ideas totally apply to the arts. I’m going to address these in terms of writing, cause that’s what I do, but substitute any artistic endeavor.

  • Learn by doing: I always feel sad when writers starting out want to know the ‘book’ they should read, or what they should do to become better writers, when the answer is somewhat obvious to me. WRITE. Learn by doing. You can’t learn to write by reading, or listening, or watching. You learn by doing. You become a better actor by acting, a better painter by painting. Just do it.
  • Technology as building material: This too is important to the artist. And the same comments apply to number eight regarding the digital world. We are living with technology. Technology can help perhaps not make your art, but sell your art, catalogue your art, promote your art, make your art accessible, give a platform to your art. These are all necessary elements to being an artist. And as a writer, I believe computer technology has given me complete freedom as an artist – it is so easy to re-write, it’s easy to organize my work. I don’t create on the computer but that’s about it.
  • Hard Fun: It’s better when the thing you love to do is challenging. Work hard at your art. When I approach a new play, I’m thinking about what I haven’t done before, how can I challenge myself. That’s what improves my skills.
  • Learning to Learn: This is extremely important for all artists. Never stop learning. Learn outside the classroom. Learn every day. I could do a lot better at this one.
  • Taking Time: Many young writers I come across want to know how they can get on the train NOW. How they can get where I am NOW. They don’t like to hear that my train took fifteen years. If you’re in a hurry with your art, you’re thinking about the end game and not the steps along the way. Skipping steps means your work won’t be as good as it could be.
  • You can’t get it right without getting it wrong: This is the best one when it comes to creativity and coming up with ideas for new work. We are all so afraid to fail. We are taught that it’s wrong to fail – you make a mistake in school you get a bad grade and life is ruined. When in actual fact if you’re trying and you fail, you’ve done nothing wrong. A la Seth Godin, failure is an event it is not a destination.
  • Do unto ourselves what we do unto our students: Here’s another one I could do better at. It’s one thing to pass on ‘how to’s’ when it comes to creating art, but do we take that advice in our own work?
  • We are entering a digital world: And it can’t be ignored. How do you move forward with your work, if you ignore what’s happening around you?

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