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Stuck IDEAS

It wasn’t too long ago when I started turning the pages of an emotional outpouring of saying goodbye to four boys into a book. Ok...it was a long time ago. That was in 2017. It’s hard to believe all the places that story has taken me. I actually did it. I wrote and published a book. Not a small feat by any means, but looking back, I sort of wonder what took me so long. Why did some of the pages seem to just stick in my mind and never make it on paper? Why were there so many days when I just wanted to throw it in the trash and start over, or just give up? Why did I stick it on a shelf for a couple months and give up on it. What is it about our creative ideas that makes them so hard to let go?


Even when I had my book pretty much complete, I held on. My friend, Pam, kept telling me “Let it go...let it go...”. She even hummed a familiar tune with those words when she was around me. In my mind I knew she was right, but in my heart I wasn’t ready. But why?


As my students are showcasing their IDEAS projects this week, I am watching them struggle with the same thing. They’ve worked on the project, learned new things and worked on a way to share it with the world...and then they hesitate. Is it good enough? What will people think? I really didn’t do my best? No one else cares about it? These are the words that I know are floating through their minds. Students typically struggle somewhat with the learning and creation part. Often, they want more guidance and structure than I’ve provided, or they just don’t have experience with doing inquiry work. But the biggest obstacle I see for all of my students whether they are 6 years old or a college adult is sharing it with the world. Even if they muster up enough courage to present to the class, it is often very difficult to get them to think about any audience beyond their immediate circle. This is where the IDEAS get stuck!


I think it’s time to start unsticking IDEAS! Somehow, there is this idea that learning is a consumer activity. You have a question; you Google an answer and that’s it. Sometimes an answer to your question even appears on your phone before you even ask. That’s a little scary. But I think learning is meant for producers. We learn so that we can create new things and solve problems in new ways. What if the Wright brothers had simply Googled, “Can a heavy object fly?” The answer would have certainly derailed their experiments. And what if Thomas Edison decided to keep his light bulb all to himself? Think of how dark our world would be right now. IDEAS aren’t meant to be kept in hiding. When we ignite our imaginations and have a new way of looking at or understanding the world, it’s meant to be shared. It’s meant to inspire others to think and to learn too.


One of my very favorite books is What Do You Do with an IDEA? by Kobi Yamada. I love how he captures this struggle of wrestling with an idea with his story and visual images. He beautifully captures what happens to an idea when we finally get unstuck and let our ideas go. It’s at this point that our ideas fully become, and they change the world. So, give that idea you have just a bit of a nudge. Unstick it from where it is holding tight and let it go. Together we can change the world...one IDEA at a time.

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