I recently bumped into a parent of a student I taught a couple of years ago. He is an early adaptor, a student constantly searching for new ways to create and learn. When I had him in class, he was making games in flash and creating his own web browsers. He created a website that won a national award with his games that he posted. By the time eighth grade came around he was interested in Photoshop. When I talked to his mom, he now is into photography.
Another student, currently in seventh grade, is a composer. His first song he ever composed was in fourth grade, the composition was the runner-up for the NAfME composition award. As he began to march through six and seventh grade, he now is working on movies with Adobe After Effects. He uses his composed music with video he created.
Cody Fry, he was an amazing student. In middle school he was the stage crew guru. In high school, he started out as a jazz piano player, reinvented himself for the stage as a lead in the school’s musicals. He was always singing, composing, creating, and experimenting. His new video audio:cimena “Stop Breathing” and album are available on iTunes. Take the time to watch this video and listen to his music. He IS a life-long adaptor that is constantly changing and inventing new avenues of music-fused technology. You can purchase the entire soundtrack on iTunes.
These students are life-long adaptors. They are constantly changing and reinventing themselves. They teach themselves the new technologies using forums, youtube, experimentation and collaboration with others. These students are inspired to work hours to adapt and teach themselves in creating purposeful meaningful artistic projects. Sadly, many schools are grading students on how well they follow the rules and less on how they innovate with a purpose.
These students are held in high regard with their classmates and their peers are always asking them “how did you do that?” They might be seen as absent-minded and aloof at times, it’s because they are thinking on how to do the next project, how to make it more interesting for THEM. They are purposeful students with a drive to create something innovative and different.
Now back to reality in our schools, as educators state they want life-long learners. The term originated in the 60’s and 70’s. Which can be formal and informal with no product. What they are really saying is that they want learners to learn the facts and rules. We all agree education today is different. We cannot continue to teach how we were taught. The life-long learner parade want students to learn for the sake of learning. There’s the problem. My former students create. They have a reason to learn. They are driven to learn. Think about that. What if every student had the drive to learn something new and then create using their passion; education today would quite a different place.
We should cultivate more students to be life-long adaptors, able to adopt new technologies and learn new programs. The important issue is we don’t have to know the programs or projects ourselves, simply ALLOW these students to be. Let their passions stir up the classroom. These students whatever they set their minds to will be a success and a blessing to classroom and society. They will be the brains behind and inspiration to others, just like they are and were in school with their friends. But, some of the teachers and administrators don’t see that, they see disruption and discourse. They didn’t follow the rules because they want life-long learners of learning. Learning what I ask.. ah… powerpoint?
Yes, how do we form a rubric, access, and grade? We cannot continue to have the same rules for everyone. In my music world everyone has different rules and is working with a different set of issues. That’s another blogpost where I will discuss the assessment piece of early adaptors.
So, I challenge you to seek our your early adaptors and allow them to be different. Looking at the world in a different prism, not the narrowness of a telescope. Your culture in your class will change like it did in mine. The moment I allowed these students to take flight, the rest of the class took off too. I began to expect more of myself and found myself becoming a life-long adaptor. Now, I am learning with a purpose to create.