Problems…challenges…disappointments…roadblocks…it is the human disposition to dislike them, RUN from them, avoid them at ALL costs.
Since childhood I have had to address this issue in myself. My desire to avoid failure inclined me toward only attempting those things at which I was certain I could succeed.
While this life tactic ensured a high GPA and academic and artistic awards in the areas that came easily to me, it also guaranteed lack of growth and a stunting of my creativity, something I didn’t realize for quite awhile.
As an actor, director, writer and producer, in order to have a career that expanded beyond the metaphorical artistic block, I have had to take risks. Disappointments and challenges have made me stronger and, of course, more creative. (If the fake snow doesn’t come, use that styrofoam popcorn you felt too guilty to put in the garbage because of landfill.)
Unraveling the disinclination I have to risk and the fear of failure is even more squarely faced as a teaching artist working with students in arts integration. I have learned sometimes problems ARE the solution, and I have learned that young minds need to learn this early, and it is a HUGE part of creativity… and the navigation of life.
The angriest student in the class was no longer a problem when he was given the assignment to tell the story of a volcano’s inner life as a monologue. How it becomes a volcano (the science), then how it feels to blows its top. The problem became the solution, and the student who always felt like the failure in class, was suddenly the star.
The student who has trouble sitting still becomes the wind. He runs and waves a light blue scarf over a row of rocks (students curled up in balls) as they roll “down the mountain” to represent erosion. The wind is not a disappointment. The wind is on the move, with work to do.
Too often we decide too soon what success is, what it should look like, so, if along the way, it doesn’t look that way, the temptation to jump ship entirely can be profound.
I’ve found, however, as I accept and even welcome the perceived roadblocks in the classroom, my journey and that of the students I have had the pleasure to work with has become more creative and expansive.
Hannah Logan is a CoTA teaching artist. Find out more about Hannah here: https://www.hannahlogan.com