"Simple is Good"

I'm lucky enough to live near Washington, D.C. where we get all sorts of wonderful exhibits that come through our plentiful museums.  This summer* I went to see a really amazing one about Jim Henson (yes, the Muppets guy) called "Jim Henson's Fantastic World".  I knew it was going to be good when I saw the sign above the entrance:

simple is good

What I came away with was that Jim Henson was an extremely talented and creative soul who lived his life through storytelling and storymaking.  His legacy is one filled with joy; I mean real joy.  You could see this happiness on the faces of the people in the exhibit (especially, the 30-40 something adults who grew up with The Muppet Show).

At some point, the educator in me started to wonder, "how would a young Jim Henson have done in today's NCLB classroom?"

It got me thinking, what are we doing to foster creativity (by students AND teachers) in our schools?  Can you successfully learn (or teach) math, science, languages, history through activities that employ a healthy amount of the spirit of creativity?  I think so.  In fact, I sincerely believe that the use of technology tools can really facilitate the creative processes in students (and teachers).  The challenge is to break down the barriers (both real and perceived) that are preventing us from taking the risks to teach by blending technology and creativity into our teaching.

So, channel the spirit of Jim Henson and create a little puppet theatre in your classroom and let your students make some puppets, write a script designed to teach other students all about Mitosis (or plate tectonics, or the electoral college, or conjugating Spanish verbs...) and perform it to the class.  Go ahead and take a video about it, put it on your blog and share it.  I'm sure the results will be wonderful and the learning that will happen around such a simple project will amaze you. Take a risk, it does not need to be fancy or polished, remember, "simple is good".

Make sure to "prime the creative pump" by watching some of The Muppet Show prior to doing this activity with your students.  This will give them a glimpse into the genius of the man and, who knows, might launch one of them into a similar direction.

I'll leave you with this final quote from Jim Henson that I found in a book in the museum bookstore.  By random happenstance this was the first page I turned to.  Thank god for mobile phone cameras...

henson quote.jpg

* I've been thinking about this blog post for some time now :-)