When I was in elementary and middle school, I was a collector. I collected stickers, Strawberry Shortcake dolls, charms (on bracelets and necklaces), and pins (on my oh-so-cool 80’s jean jacket). I collected pigs (stuffed animals, glass figurines, and many other forms) and anything related to New Kids on the Block. I also collected book series, such as The Babysitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin.
In high school I collected pictures – of my friends and family, and of my celebrity crushes from Teen Bop! My reading tastes graduated to the diverse writings of Stephen King, Danielle Steele and V.C. Andrews.
When I was in college I was a “collector” of hats (often off of boys at parties!) and journals and quotes. I still have stacks of journals that I filled up during those years.
As an adult I have gone through collections of decorative coasters, sunflowers, books, movies, music, clothes, Coach purses, shoes, and more. I have also gone through periods of cleaning and declutter where I vowed to stop collecting stuff forever.
“Collections and hobbies are features of the imagination and important learning tools.”
Gillian Judson writes this, in “Tips for Imaginative Educators #9: Let Them Obsess”. I never thought about my collections or hobbies as part of my imagination, though it makes sense now. I have always been a writer and many of my early fictional writings included elements of these collections.
How do we tap into the obsessions of our students to spark their creativity? How can their imaginations drive learning?
As a teacher, I often incorporated the music and pop culture references my students loved to grab their attention and motivate them in new ways. Beside this making me the “cool teacher” at the time, I saw my students’ eyes light up when they connected the learning of our class with their own interests. I witnessed this learning joy again while working with teachers to plan inquiry projects for young students.
This idea of learners’ passions driving them reminds me of two ideas I think are critical in a classroom and in professional development: voice and choice.
It is so important for learners of all ages to have a voice and a choice in their own learning. The more we provide options and allow students to select their own learning paths, the more likely the students are to be engaged and self-directed and driven by a purpose behind our grade books or assignments.
I’m going to continue to think about my own early collections and how we, as educators, can tap into this idea with our student and adult learners. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thank you to this BAM Radio blog post that inspired this post!