I came across this quote from Walt Disney recently while reading a favourite book & it immediately reminded me of my adventures in teaching online in the last two years. My goal was to create springboards rather than lessons, per se. In other words, a suitably concocted launching pad is all that’s needed for students to go off on their own linguistic tangents of self-discovery.
Much of this focus was in alignment with my online tribe of Edupreneuring pioneers who ‘walk’ the Disney ‘talk’. My association with George Machlan’s Edupunk movement on WiZiQ was part of a large-scale experiment in reversing overt teaching strategies and allowing learning to be incidental rather than by design.
However there was much designing inherent in this non-design, as we had fun creating activities that engaged students, yet appeared effortless, as if deep learning just springs from thin air. George Machlan was constantly warning ‘the academics’ in Edupunk of the dangers involved in over-intellectualising linguistic play.
Can deep learning spring from thin air?
Walt Disney’s words reminded me particularly of the apparent friction between the world view of academia as opposed to the bold path of Edupreneuring.
This was often played out on Edupunk turf, and I was not quite sure of the sharp distinction that George Machlan made between academic approaches to lesson planning and Edupunk content creation.
I was, of course, an advocate of ‘endorphin-rich learning’ and saw the beauty of process in learning as opposed to mere results-oriented models. Yet, I had seen many passionate ‘academics’ create wonderful, fun-loving environments for their students, and I also knew that mainstream education was already doing its best to motivate students through a playful focus.
It was with much amusement that I wondered which camp I, myself, was really in. Having enjoyed enough academia to feed my love of literature in my youth, yet not enough to become ‘institutionalised’, I decided that I was a Edupreneurial hybrid whose qualifications were so right-brained that redemption was close at hand.
If we examine the Walt Disney creative strategy in more detail, we may actually have a formula for this antagonism between play versus planning models. The Dreamer, the Realist & the Critic – (Disney’s model)
- Create a dream or vision of the whole film. ( In this case the film is your vision for learning which is deeply embedded in your inner teaching values.)
- Look at the plan realisitically. ( balance money, time, resources, and all necessary information.)
- Look at the whole thing again from the point of view of a critical member of the audience.
When I consider the three roles of Dreamer, Realist and Critic , I surmise that individuals have their own personality setpoints and each of us ‘has become’ a dominant role or, at least, has dominant tendencies.
Personally speaking, I am a dreamer, and have much work to do with regard to practicalities and criticism. Yet, this is the best starting point. The dream is where it all begins. As any kindergarten teacher or parents of small children can see, the yellow brick road of rapport is where a child’s imagination is best captured.
If we reverse the order in Disney’s creative strategy, the opposing perspectives of traditional academia emerge.
A) The Realist, the Dreamer, the Critic..??
Most of theWestern world operates from this angle. An insanely appealing idea enters one’s mind. The Realist rears its ugly head and wakes up the Critics . The Critics are those nasty voices in our heads that ridicule the Dreamer. These inner Critics can be vicously cutting ,and yet another dream dies an early death. Soon the dreams stop coming and our lives are predictably logical and two-dimensional – tidy and stale. Learning has become a necessary evil motivated by Spartan humiliation techniques.
If our dreamer is strong or insane enough to drown out all inner critics, one gets further criticism from society and the establishment who wish to maintain the status quo .
B) The Critic, The Realist, the Dreamer??
This is the most dangerous strategy and a true perversion of Disney’s vision. Some of us operate from a critical mindset and even tell children to stop day dreaming. This mindset certainly favours left-brain dominant teaching, lecturing, and teaching through tests.
This one is responsible for killing creativity and creating future citizens who will further disrespect our planet in the name of materialism. This one takes art off the curriculum when children reach the age of seven. This one is the patriarchal factory model that Pink Floyd sang about in 1982. This one is THE WALL.
Those of us who embrace the Disney creative strategy knock down walls.
Where are we today?
As I see it, academics who create fun learning environments are making changes within the establishment. They are still hampered by bureaucracy, however, and are still cogs in a left-brain dominated, materialistic wheel of inertia. We are trapped in the Realist – Dreamer – Critic model.
Edupreneurs, on the other hand, are carving out educational Disneylands all over the world as we speak. They are unhampered by bureaucracy, freed by technology, toughened by a professional life devoid of comfort zones, and unquestionably, guided by the Dreamer.
Some of the Edupreneurs from my personal learning network have also figured out the Realist and Critical parts of the strategy, and it is they who inspire my own Edupreneurial path.
My next article will feature some of these members of my PLN and give practical examples of the creative strategy at work.