23 June 2010: Education should untap a student’s creative energy

Education should untap a student’s creative energy

I recall addressing the relationship of being and doing in a column or at least in context of a related topic. Or I might’ve started to but then deleted it as I have with dozens of other false starts. Or it might remain sequestered on my hard drive or a disc waiting to be opened and reread. I’m not a pack-rat, since I regularly moving out stuff no longer needed, but that does not seem to be true about old writings. Like the world of quantum mechanics, my universe of ideas teems with potentials to be explored.

A person’s kundalini, which University of California-Berkeley professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences Kurt Keutzer calls “a great reservoir of creative energy,” is symbolized by a coiled serpent at the base of the spine.

“The image of coiling, like a spring, conveys the sense of untapped potential energy.”

“It’s more useful,” he continues, “to think of kundalini energy as the very foundation of our consciousness, so that when kundalini moves through our bodies our consciousness necessarily changes with it.”

For some, that creative energy might be directed toward and reflected in needlepoint or gardening. In me, it finds expression in writing, though I equally enjoy reading, getting lost in another’s writing, when well constructed. Should boredom set in due to poor craftsmanship or predictability, last month’s dust atop the coffee table will beckon.

I admit to being a literary snob. With curiosity essential to keep one’s attention, simplistic or predictable pieces offer neither pleasure nor satisfaction. That’s the reason, even as an unabashed liberal, I plunge anticipating, albeit replete with oxygen tank and other scuba paraphernalia, into columns crafted by George Will and David Brooks, while eschewing those of Mike Rosen and David Harsanyi. Of course, they might feel the same about mine, but somehow I doubt either finds time to venture forth from their big-lake waters to test the depth and temperature of mountain tarns.

As it is with any craft, writing is not easily mastered and rarely perfected. One’s style evolves through the process. The skill set can be honed as it’s largely mechanical: organizing ideas tightly within a framework of paragraphs that opens with a grabber, followed by a series that takes the reader through a maze of thoughts, which if taken from the whole might seem unrelated, by using an effective mixture of simple and complex nouns — noun phrases and clauses, gerunds, and gerund and infinitive phrases — and active verbs with an assortment of vivid descriptors — participles, adjective and adverb clauses, and adjective phrases — sprinkled throughout sparingly or liberally, depending on the need, to help create pictures or unconscious metaphors within the readers’ minds by way of sentences varying in structure once again from simple to intricately complex that might seem rambling or run-on but are not, much like the legalese one encounters in Blue Book summaries of ballot measures, appropriately punctuated to help avoid confusion especially with regard to commas, semi-colons, and colons, then pulled together in a conclusion that loops back to the introductory element allowing the reader to say, “Ah ha, I get it or I think I do, though I’m not sure why or how, but then that’s not what matters.”

The toughest part for me when writing columns is maintaining a personal detachment from the topic, since speaking truth to power, as I see it, and drawing attention to inconsistencies, hypocrisies and double-standards are items on my agenda. As noted above, I admit to being an unabashed liberal, although more round and bald than pointy-headed. Such are the vagaries of inherited DNA.

Rail through the I-70 Corridor won’t happen in our lifetimes, the wind farm might or might not, and, either way, the snug little hamlet of Georgetown will continue to lullaby itself to sleep and merely dream of its potential. No matter the outcomes on those and sundry others, for me life goes on. None is personal or rises to the level of a hill to die on, save one: public education.

The broadsides launched against schools, teachers, and the purpose and meaning of education itself by unimaginative bean-counters only serve to decapitate the coiled serpent of creative energies for teachers and students. To so-called reformers, mysterious oceans, filled with boundless schools of fishes, are simple places and mere objects to be ignored or perchance analyzed but never marveled at.

Which takes us back to the question: How can one create a well-spent, meaningful life, one in which his/her consciousness is permitted to grow and change, without an education that encourages untapped creative energy to spring forth?

Perhaps the answer lies hidden in Hamlet’s haunting soliloquy, but since the question won’t appear on a standardized test, why fret?

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