I am a teacher with a strong personal bias. I teach from the inside out, which means that I draw out the child’s responses, thoughts, and experiences instead of filling the child with information. The creative child is one who feels comfortable in his own skin. He does not doubt his perceptions of the world—and brings this individuality to his activities. Some children are lost as soon as they find themselves not required to obey instructions and follow rules. My main focus is to provide a solid base of inner confidence and to help the child find her voice. The common themes contained in all my lesson plans are the encouragement of self-expression, creativity and individuality.
Preparing for performance (in the case of Speech and Drama and Presentation Skills) or for higher grades (in the case of Writing Lessons) never undermines the process of encouraging true self-expression through the unconditional acceptance of the child’s uniqueness.
I have watched children recite poetry to an audience for no other reason than it was expected of him. Not only does the leaden performance reflect his discomfort but the experience for the child is disorienting and meaningless. I have read writing that was devoid of life because the exercise given to the student was to think of as many adjectives as possible. The emptiness of these exercises will be obvious to any listener or reader, and in the end not only defeats the purpose of encouraging a child’s individuality, but also, ironically, hinders the success of the performance or written piece, because the audience intuitively recognizes the hollowness of it.
I have also watched a teen recite a poem with such lyrical intensity and beauty that the audience is obviously profoundly affected; and I have seen children recite pieces of prose from their favourite novels with delighted enthusiasm which not only engages the audience but also enhances their understanding of the children. To watch a child’s understanding of herself and the world at large increase through the joy of experiencing literature, drama, speech and writing is transformative.
With the prevalence of computer games, television and other technologies in our children’s lives, which remove them from, rather than engage them in, the real world, writing, drama and speech—expressive mediums— have never been more relevant. This is true on both a personal level (for a satisfying and fulfilling life) and a professional level. Whereas obeying rules and following instructions were once extremely important in schools and the workplace, creativity, imagination and initiative are now attributes that are highly valued.
Never has it been more important to develop a child’s potential, deepen his humanity and heighten his ability to experience life fully.