A few years ago I wrote this post called You can learn a lot from a child which features a video of a presentation by Severn Cullis-Suzuki. I was reminded of this because of recent events: over the weekend our daughter was born here in Japan. This is my first child, and I think already she is teaching me lessons. This has me thinking a lot more about new beginnings and the beginner's mind and the incredible potential that is within any child. Of course, all parents hope their children will grow up to be creative and original, and they want to teach their children well. But I wonder if creativity and originality are not taught as much as they are inspired. That is, we can not so much really teach one to be creative but we can inspire them and create the stimulating environment for them to let their own natural talents come out. So what then is the role of teachers? I am not certain, but the best ones -- the ones we remember, the ones who really impacted our lives -- are the ones who inspired us to explore and inquire and discover on our own long after we left formal schooling. I am not suggesting that inspiration is a panacea, but we do not give it the respect it is due. We do not give inspiring teachers the credit they deserve. Children remind us that inspiration matters. It matters as much for scientists and engineers as it does for artists. And children remind us that we are all artists.
What adults can learn from kids This short TED talk by "child prodigy" Adora Svitak is getting a lot of buzz this week. What Adora says is not really anything we do not already know, but perhaps we need constant reminding. I guess children are good at reminding us about what's important.
Adora makes several good points and spends several moments talking about "the beginners mind" though that is not what she calls it. It's a good talk. It's not the best presentation ever or even the best presentation given by a child, but I think it's well worth watching; it's at the very least provocative and may get you thinking. (Adora does not use many visuals, but she usesPrezifor the few that she does show. More and more you are seeing digital natives use presentation apps other than PowerPoint or Keynote. Using apps other than PowerPoint comes very natural to younger people, perhaps because they are not bound to the slide deck culture.)
Beginner's Mind Here are two different treatments of a quote on the beginner's mind (source). (click for 800x600 size)