Friday, August 12, 2011


Portrait By Sean Taylor
Perceptions altered, after attending school in Sweden where they do not give letter grades (extrinsic rewards); I was struck with an intercession of ideals. Students in Sweden seek to strengthen math, reading, language, knowledge, synthesis, comprehension, fluency, and academic understanding, not completing teacher made work in pursuit of grades or empty praise. When a student masters a skill with with 50% accuracy they are aloud to move on to learn new skills. The student is always aloud to risk, with a freedom from grades that I had a hard time with at first, but it is truly a great freedom!
       Students, parents, and teachers know the desired outcome or skill the lessons and learning are designed to introduce, develop and master. Lessons and learning are never impeded on the vagaries or whims of made curriculum. The goal is never the extrinsic grade for students, but mastery of the skill. The intrinsic desire to learn has been abandon or curtailed by publishers, schools, teachers, parents, and sadly students. The acquisition and distribution of letter grades has regressed and repressed ideas, used as bribes, bait, rewards, punishment, and social currency. This pursuit of the extrinsic has diminished creativity and innovation.
     We lose creativity, innovation, curiosity, "thought experiments," "travels on the ship of imagination," and "ethereal mind conveyance of beyond", tools of the creative intrinsic mind. Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Stephen W. Hawking, and Albert Einstein are products of the intrinsic mind. Art, creativity, theater, and music play a key role in building intrinsic desire. The arts are the foundation of the visual spatial mathematical logical intelligence that is the essential 21st century skill.  We over analyze and formulate grades and rubrics for all human activity and call this research and progress, yet we lose our creativity. The dawn of humanity is the intrinsic desire to better oneself; this coincides with that dawn of geometry, math, agriculture, science, astronomy, architecture, sculpture, painting, theater, math, agriculture, and humanity. The artist, mathematician, playwright, and architect are one in the same. Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer. Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci an Italian polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer.  What is needed is a Renaissance classroom that creates painters, sculptors, architects, musicians, scientists, mathematicians, engineers, inventors, anatomists, geologists, cartographers, botanists and writers. NOT GRADES! Yes students need to know their MATH FACTS! They also need to reason, examine, envision, invent, imagine, and inspire!

The greatest learning lessons and activities are those that give feedback directly. Reading, playing an instrument, painting, writing and reciting, cooking, singing, calculating, creating, analyzing, and imagining are activities with built in feedback.

Sean Taylor M.Ed Artist and Renaissance Teacher.

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