Category Archives: Assemblies and Speakers

CEF: Why K12 Schools Need To Embrace Creative Problem-Solving

The Creative Education Foundation on John Hunter, brainstorming techniques, and hope for future generations of creative thinkers and innovators.

The Creative Education Foundation (CEF), co-sponsors of Inly’s Omran ♦ Nelson Speaker Series event with John Hunter on April 9th, have trained thousands of people in creative problem-solving and brainstorming over the years. In fact, the founder of the foundation “invented” both brainstorming and creative problem-solving, techniques that have become the foundation of creative processes around the world. CEF clients include Visa, Stanley Black & Decker, HP, Microsoft, Hershey, Boeing, Staples and Ocean Spray. The group has a wide reach, having conducted Visioning Workshops at Disney World’s Epcot Center and CEF YouthWise programs in South Africa. Current projects include a brain science research study with Dartmouth College and consulting in Dubai to help educators use creativity in their work.

The Inly connection? Donna Milani Luther, Inly’s Head of School, has served as a designated leader and consultant for the CEF since 1984. She and John Hunter both presented talks at the CEF’s annual Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI) Conference in 2012 (sparking the idea to bring Hunter to speak at Inly). In 2013, the CEF moved its headquarters to the Inly School campus.

We recently had a chance to chat with both Stephen Brand and Kitty Heusner of the CEF about their work with school administrators and educators and their philosophy on the importance of creativity in K–12 education.

Stephen Brand, Director of Programming, CEF

You help adults in organizations tackle complex business problems. How does this work apply to K–12 education?
Over the years we’ve trained thousands of people in creative problem-solving and brainstorming, helping them uncover ideas and solutions to daily or long-term challenges. Whether you’re in a business or a nonprofit organization or running a K–12 school, many of the principles are the same.

For instance, we now offer a course called “Creativity in the 21st Century Classroom.”
We bring together teachers and principals, professional development staff and curriculum directors and we show them how to apply these proven methods in the classroom. We show them how to actively use creativity, brain-based learning research (i.e. multiple intelligence theory), and learning styles to accelerate learning and help them prepare for the Common Core State Standards with foundational skills that integrate creativity, collaboration, and action on ideas generated.

How does this tie into your overall mission?
Our mission is about “engaging and developing the next generation of creative thinkers and innovators.” Part of the CEF vision is enable educators to initiate change in their schools, revitalize communities and enhance methods and systems with new, yielding results that reflect the very problems identified to resolve. We’re most interested in helping administrators realize the power of using creativity in schools in developing a culture of innovation, creative approaches to student engagement and building the creative thinking skills of their students Independent, magnet and charter schools are initially investing much more in creativity in their schools. What we offer is fits more easily in independent, charter and magnet schools as they seek to differentiate their learning experiences from the typical public school. International schools seem to be quite intrigued with infusing creative thinking in their schools as well.

With the public schools, it’s going to take early adopters to jump on this. It really takes a forward-thinking superintendent or principal in a public school to embrace creativity as a core component in their efforts. Our hope is to get more and more schools, public, private, urban, suburban, to embrace this creative approach to education and find better ways of motivating students and allowing the ideas of students to drive their learning.

Does your research focus on adults or students?
Both. We’re currently working with Dartmouth College on a study to see whether learning creative thinking and creative problem-solving skills would change the actual brain structure of middle school students. This involves taking functional MRIs and analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data. In our academic journal, the Journal of Creative Behavior and at our annual conference we address creativity in education as well as creativity in business, organizations and even governments. Right now we see the K–12 education space as critical. Our world is becoming increasingly complex and we want to help schools and administrators focus on preparing future leaders to brainstorm creative solutions to complex problems in whatever fields they explore.

Katherine O. (Kitty) Heusner, Ph.D., Chair of the Board of Trustees, CEF

What do students need to succeed in this century? In the future?
They need critical thinking and problem-solving skills to navigate the changing world around them. One of our hopes is that CEF can reach out to schools that are often underserved to develop programs that promote creativity as a necessary skill for success. One of the ironies in education is that the ones who need help with creative problem-solving the most often receive the least.

Is this type of teaching and learning possible in traditional schools?
Yes, I think it is. When I hear people say, ‘We can’t do anything with creative thinking because we have to focus on the curriculum content,’ I think, ‘Wait a minute. It’s not about stopping to teach creativity as a new subject, it’s about infusing strategies into your teaching that foster creative thinking and present the content in creative ways.’

The reality is that most people have not experienced this type of learning themselves, and so it’s difficult to really see the possibilities. That’s why it’s important to work with the total school community—to work with administrators to help them model and support the change, to work with teachers to develop the skill set and mind set, and to involve parents to understand the importance.

What do you think is most important take-away from Hunter’s film and talks?
That one person in one classroom can truly make a significant difference in children, one at a time. John Hunter is an inspiring example of a teacher who did not in any way abandon what his students needed to learn—but rather saw a way to do it that would create enthusiasm and interest and, more importantly, develop critical in-depth learning and skill development that goes far beyond the content area that he may have originally been planning to teach. By allowing students to imagine themselves and play the roles Prime Ministers, Secretaries of State and even Arms Dealers, they became more engaged and motivated to understand the content as they lived the content.

How would you describe John Hunter’s approach to creative problem-solving?
What John has come up with is adaptable and adoptable for this changing population. It facilitates effective creative-thinking techniques—the key principle being that you do the divergent “open gathering” ideas separate from the “choosing among” ideas. We observe his students engaged in this type of learning in the film (World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements). They were encouraged not to jump early to conclusions but to jump thoughtfully to conclusions after they had gathered a variety of ideas and listened to each other in wonderful ways. It is creative thinking and problem-solving in action at its finest!

Further Reading:

John Hunter and His Montessori Message: An interview with Inly’s head of school

John Hunter Presents “World Peace Game” Film and Talk on Experiential Education

Culture of Creativity at Inly School

 

John Hunter and His Montessori Message

A chat with Inly’s head of school about student-centered learning, global awareness and the power of experiential education

John Hunter at Inly School in Scituate MA

John Hunter presents his film “World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements” at Inly School on April 9th

When Donna Milani Luther heard John Hunter speak at the Creative Education Foundation’s annual Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI) Conference last summer, she was blown away. “His approach aligned so perfectly with ours, and his message was so compelling, that I immediately knew I wanted to bring him to Inly to meet with our school community. And I wanted other teachers and administrators and parents to share in the experience, too.”

John Hunter will speak at Inly on Wednesday, April 9 as part of the Omran ♦ Nelson Speaker Series. For a full description of the event, see the Inly News story:  John Hunter to Present “World Peace Game” Film and Talk on Hands-On, Experiential Learning.

To purchase online tickets visit the Inly Speaker Series page.

Q: Hunter’s talk is called, “The Schools and Teachers our Students Need Us To
Be.” What does this mean, exactly?

It’s about allowing students to guide their own learning, based on their interests. It’s about teachers and schools allowing students to really take ownership. John’s message is that we all need to focus on how students learn best and then thoughtfully prepare the best type of environment for this success. He asks us to ask ourselves: What are our roles as guides for children in this century?

Q: Hands-on, experiential learning is the focal point of his film, “World Peace and Other 4th Grade Achievements.” Is this a focal point of his talk as well?

World_Peace_Foundation_Inly_SchoolYes. He firmly believes that experiential education is the most effective way for students to learn, and that’s really the premise of this talk. It’s the best proven way to capture students’ attention and extend their learning and their capacity to stay on a task. As educators we want to see students building skills around interest and content, and we want the learning to be rigorous and challenging and fun.

Q: And can it be rigorous enough, this type of experiential learning?

Oh, absolutely. It’s about teaching from the inside out.

I think that people generally will challenge themselves if they feel like they’re learning and growing. Otherwise they just look to the least common denominator. We see that alive in our school every day and you see that in great schools and in great teachers.

Kids will often keep going if inspired. But when they’re led in a direction that’s rote … that’s ‘sorry, you can’t spend any more time on that because our curriculum maps say you have to do this tomorrow,’ and the child isn’t really interested in going there, they’re really not going to learn nearly as much.

So, yes, I believe it can be rigorous and I believe it’s our job as teachers to stay ten steps ahead to be true guides to help students develop.

Can you speak to the Montessori like aspects of his message? Peace studies and global awareness are two themes that come to mind.

Yes, this is very much the type of cosmic education that Maria Montessori cared about. Understanding our place in the world, figuring out that there are pieces that make up the whole, that we’re all part of that in some way and that our job is to find out how it all fits together… It’s all part of the continuum in a Montessori school.

His approach is very much what we do in Montessori—not only in the content delivery but in the content itself.

The entire World Peace Game is also very Montessori in that it is very hands-on and the teacher really steps back and guides the students to solve the problem on their own. Yes, it is a challenge and it’s a big challenge! World peace is not something you can solve in a day. But he has designed something that’s appropriately long enough for 4th, 5th and 6th graders and designed it to capture their attention and to extend their attention—and extend their thinking and learning and processing and their capacity to stay on a task.

These students are the future designers and inventors and entrepreneurs, the ones who are figuring all this out. I think it’s ingenious and it gives me hope.

 

 

Thoughts on Sports, Teamwork and Montessori Education

What does a former NFL football player have to do with Montessori education? Head of School Donna Milani Luther recently shared her thoughts and explained why national sports educator Joe Ehrmann was selected to kick off the 2013–14 Nelson ♦ Omran Speaker Series on October 23rd.

How does Joe’s message fit with the Inly ethos and philosophy?
He’s actually very Inly-esque in his approach to coaching, and I think it aligns perfectly with who we are as a school. We share the understanding that students learn well when there’s a sense of happiness and friendship and teamwork and love. As someone who extends that onto the coaching field, Joe presents a really interesting view.

Joe talks a lot about teamwork and collaboration and the importance of helping each other succeed… and I see a lot of similarities in our approach at Inly. Because our classrooms are multi-age, the older students are taught how to be role models and to help the younger ones. And because we’re a preK–8 school, this happens at all levels — from middle school down to preschool — as older students model kindness and leadership, teach skills and inspire younger students. The whole educational model at Inly is set up to help us all become the best we can be.

What about the role of competition in sports? Is this at odds with the Montessori-based approach at Inly?
I’ve always been one to think that you compete with yourself. If I’m doing math, I want to do math myself better the next time; I don’t need to beat the person beside me. At Inly we teach children to make personal goals and then to work hard within that framework to achieve them. Our approach is “we’re all in this together” rather than competing against one another — which leads to cooperative learning and to the kind of teamwork that I think kids need in this century.

Joe’s philosophy is that teamwork, not competition, is what it takes to succeed — both on the sports field and in life. That’s our philosophy at Inly as well.

Joe talks a lot about gender issues and the sports culture in our country. What is this all about?
He touches on this a lot — particularly in his “Be a Man” TEDx talk. It all has to do with healthy child and adolescent development, and knowing one’s true self. Joe comes from a traditional macho place and knows that the mentality is set from a young age. The “here’s what guys do in sports” message is all around us — they drink a bit too much, they act a certain way, and there’s that kind of bravado. It applies to boys in particular but all kids when they don’t have another way to identify themselves and fit in. Sometimes when kids don’t have another angle in they use sports as a shell around themselves as opposed to finding their authentic selves.

Joe’s message is about the need to transform the culture of sports, and it starts with parents and teachers and coaches sending the right message—the earlier, the better.

What do you hope parents take from this talk?
Joe presents a much more holistic approach to sports. It’s not about winning this particular game, it’s about winning your long-term personal race in life. It’s about ‘how am I going to be the best person I can be?’ and viewing sports as one vehicle to get there. I hope parents see that this kind of approach can lead to happier, healthier humans and that they help their own children get there.

What about teachers and coaches? What do you hope they take away?
We’re actually doing a pre-talk workshop for Inly teachers and coaches as well as YMCA coaches. Each teacher and coach will write a personal mission statement on how they pledge to help boys grow to men and girls grow to women and to help each child be the best they can be. Their individual statements will detail how they plan to help facilitate this back in their classrooms, gyms or out on the sports fields.

Is this a brand new collaboration with the YMCA?
Yes and no. The Joe Ehrmann talk is co-sponsored by the South Shore YMCA. But since the Y now owns the South Shore Natural Science Center, last year’s talk with Richard Louv could technically be considered our first collaboration.

As for sports programs, we’ve been lucky to be involved with the South Shore YMCA for several years. Our Upper Elementary students regularly travel to the YMCA in Hanover to do a physical fitness and life skills program; Upper Elementary and Middle School students also play in the Y’s flag football league as part of Inly’s After-School Program. It all makes for a healthy, well-rounded and developmentally-appropriate physical education and sports curriculum—both during and after school.

Read more:

Transforming the Culture of Sports: Former NFL player, named the “Greatest Coach in America,” speaks at Inly School

Inly Parent Education Talk: Joe Ehrmann on “Transforming the Culture of Sports”

Be A Man: Joe Ehrmann at TEDxBaltimore 2013

Who’s sports educator Joe Ehrmann and what’s he all about? Watch this video clip to hear his compelling message at a recent TED talk. Then read the following news story to learn more about his upcoming talk for parents, teachers and coaches:

Transforming the Culture of Sports: Former NFL player, named “The Most Important Coach in America,” speaks at Inly School Oct 23

Co-sponsored by the South Shore YMCA, this talk is open to the public. Tickets are $20 and available online at the Inly Speaker Series page. Bring your friends and spread the word!

A Glimpse of Inly at 41

By Donna Milani Luther, Head of School

Luther, DonnaThe school year ahead promises to be filled with dynamic programs and initiatives. A big piece of this will be the launch of our new strategic plan, which will act as a roadmap for the school over the next three years. In the coming months, I will provide updates in my Rhythm & News articles about the different components of the plan and how each will unfold.

In the meantime, here’s a preview of what you can expect at Inly in the 2013-14 year:

Expanded Bus Service
Inly now has an expanded bus service with stops in Boston, Dorchester, Quincy, and Hingham. It is our hope in offering this service that we can make Inly School more accessible to the greater community and continue to draw students from these towns.

Speaker Series
The Omran • Nelson Speaker Series is in honor of two Inly faculty members, Sue Omran and Brien Nelson, who were sadly lost to cancer. Both Sue Omran and Brien Nelson were, in their own unique ways, extremely passionate about Montessori education, adult education, children, and learning. To perpetuate this speaker series in their names is a wonderful tribute to them and their ideals.

This year, to kick off the series, Inly will be welcoming esteemed speaker, Joe Ehrmann. Joe is a former professional athlete turned inspirational, speaker who works with corporate, civic and community organizations and associations to promote growth, teamwork, effectiveness, and individual responsibility. We hope to see you all on Wednesday, October 23.

Sports Initiatives
In another article in this issue, “Amping Up Sports,” you will hear from our new physical education specialist, Jabari Scutchins, and learn about the different ways we are improving the sports programs at Inly and providing more opportunities for physical activity throughout the school day and school year.

Middle School Programmatic Initiatives
This year, Inly is working with NuVu Studio in Cambridge to offer our 8th grade students a truly groundbreaking experiential learning program. For two intensive weeks, our students will work with experts and PhDs from MIT and Harvard on multi-disciplinary, collaborative projects that solve real-world problems. It is the first time NuVu Studio has worked with students younger than high school and we are honored that they have agreed to work with our students.

For the second year, Inly School is working with “Intercultural Experiences” to bring two middle school students to Inly from Guatemala. Middle School families will host the students who will attend Inly Middle School for six weeks. These students quickly become a part of and add to the Middle School community. They also work with our elementary Spanish instructor, Kaela Conroy, in her classes as a way to connect with the broader Inly community as well.  To expand this exchange experience for our students, we are also partnering with the service learning program “Con Los Ojos Abiertos” to offer our graduating 8th graders and alumni students an opportunity to work and learn in Guatemala for two weeks over the summer. There will be more information on this program in the coming months.

Parent Insight Series & Student Assemblies
This year, we will continue to offer a Parent Insight Series of educational talks designed to provide opportunities for parents to practice lifelong learning, whether about Inly and its philosophy and programs, or about parenting in general. The series will touch on topics including Montessori in the home, discussing adolescence, beyond sticks and stones, building lifelong readers and writers, and keeping learning alive.

In addition, there will be a number of student assemblies throughout the school year that are designed to complement and enrich the curriculum. This year, we have an exciting array of assembly speakers including Jacqueline Davies, author of The Lemonade War, artist Ventura Fabian and his “Dancing Chickens,” singers Alastair Moock and Mama Steph, and science exploration with EarthView.

Outdoor Classroom
In the spring of 2012 Inly expanded its campus, adding a four-acre lot of land to be used as an Outdoor Classroom for the entire school community. On Sunflower Hill, volunteers have been busy with groundskeeping, while students and teachers utilize the space for hands-on experiential learning, science classes, gardening, bird watching, and outdoor exploration both during and after school. Each level has its own curriculum developed and implemented at all levels—from Toddler and Preschool through Middle School—for expanded experiential lessons in science and integrated curriculum studies.

There is now an Outdoor Classroom Committee, which includes faculty representatives from every level of the school. Their task is to find ways to expand the school’s curriculum and to incorporate different offerings using Sunflower Hill.

In addition, Sunflower Hill is used for school-wide events, committee meetings, and parent social gatherings.

The Year Ahead
It is very exciting to see what this year and the next 40 years will hold for Inly School. The 2013-14 academic year will most certainly be filled with insightful events, new offerings, and continued growth. Please stay tuned for my future Rhythm & News updates as the school year unfolds.

Inly and South Shore Natural Science Center Advocate for Outdoor Learning

While Inly marks its 40th anniversary this year, its Norwell neighbor, the South Shore Natural Science Center, is celebrating its 50th! The parent education talk with Richard Louv is just one highlight of the center’s celebration, but a very meaningful one.

Outdoor education speaker at Inly School

Best-selling author Richard Louv to speak in parent education series at Inly School

Folks from Inly and the Science Center came together to sponsor this talk, connected by a shared mission and similar core values. Read more about that in our news story in the Inly Mashup:

“Last Child in the Woods” Author to Discuss Nature Deficit Disorder, Child Development and the Role of Technology at Inly School on April 3

Both educational institutions believe that active, hands-on exploration outdoors fosters children’s natural curiosity and helps them gain a meaningful understanding of the world around them.

Conversation about Outdoor Play, Nature-Based Experiential Education and our Common Mission

We spoke with Tracey Merrill, executive director of the Science Center, about her goals for the upcoming talk on April 3rd.

Q: What do you hope people take away from this talk?

A: My hope for our members and visitors, students and families, anyone attending the talk, is that we all move to get kids outside—the earlier the better…exploring and discovering everything that nature has to offer.

I’d like us all to hear Richard’s message about how easily we are all distracted by technology…. and that there are tangible effects on kids. He makes a very compelling case about the rise in obesity, distractibility, social detachment… He wakes us up to the fact that we raise our children indoors…. to the fact that kids don’t know how to build tree houses or to use tools anymore.

There’s so much confidence and independence that comes with unstructured outdoor play. And learning as well. Skills like sequencing and numeracy and very connected to nature-based education.

South Shore Natural Science Center Norwell MAAbout the South Shore Natural Science Center

The South Shore Natural Science Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about the natural and cultural environments of the South Shore. Their mission is to provide natural science experiences that educate, excite, and commit every generation to preserve the environment and to encourage responsible use, stewardship and enjoyment of our natural resources. For more information, visit southshorenaturalsciencecenter.org.

Parent Education: Deborah Roffman Kicks off Sue Omran Speaker Series October 4

Deborah Roffman, best-selling author, educator and consultant on sexuality education, will speak at Inly School on Thursday night, October 4 at 7:00 p.m. In addition to discussing her latest book, Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ “Go-To” Person about Sex, Roffman will lead a Q & A session and sign books (available for purchase at the event). Open to the public, this talk is ideal for parents of children and teens, as well as educators interested in professional development. This event is free to Inly families and $10 for community members, payable at the door. Please RSVP by Wednesday, October 3 to speakerseries@inlyschool.org.

The Sue Omran Speaker Series: Innovative Parent Education for All

Roffman’s talk kicks off the new Sue Omran Speaker Series at Inly School. Open to the public, this series features highly acclaimed authors and speakers (including Deepak Chopra, Rudy Tanzi and Richard Louv) and explores a range of innovative topics and philosophies. It seeks to provide opportunities for parents, educators and the community at large to practice life-long learning.

Thanks to the outpouring of generosity from donors, the Sue Omran Speaker Series has been established in memory of Sue, an Inly teacher and dedicated parent and educator, who passed away after a battle with breast cancer in 2011. For more information, please see the “Speaker Series” web page.

With financial support from this fund, we intend to bring outstanding thought leaders to the South Shore, who—in the tradition of Maria Montessori and Sue Omran—challenge, inspire and guide us to become the best educators and parents we can be.

More About Roffman and “Talk to Me First”

Deborah Roffman has been interviewed on national television and radio shows, including the CBS Early Show, Nightline, 20/20 and NPR. Her work has been featured in the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Washington Times.

What drives her is a single vision: “that one day it will be families and schools―not media, merchandisers, entertainers, peers, and popular culture―who become the primary, as in first and most important, resources for young people about a topic so essential to life, health, and happiness.”

Like her earlier best-seller Sex and Sensibility, Roffman’s latest book is highly relevant to today’s youth. Having taught sexuality education in grades 4-12 for over 30 years, she knows what children need to know and has a wealth of useful advice for parents.

“We live in a time when kids of all ages are bombarded with age-sensitive material wherever they turn,” states the Philadelphia Tribune. “‘Sexting’ and bullying are on the rise at an increasingly younger age, and teen moms are ‘celebrified.’ What is a concerned — and embarrassed — parent to do?

“With wit, wisdom, and savvy, Deborah Roffman translates her experiences gleaned from decades of teaching kids and parents, and as a mom, into strategies to help parents navigate this tricky terrain. “Talk to Me First” is for any parent who wants to become and remain the most credible and influential resource about sexuality in their children’s lives.”

Next Speakers: Deepak Chopra, Dr. Rudy Tanzi (Dec. 4) and Richard Louv (Apr. 3)

On December 4 at 7:00 p.m., Deepak Chopra and Dr. Rudy Tanzi will speak at Inly School about their highly anticipated book Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-Being (publish date: Nov 6, 2012). Chopra, an internationally popular author of 65 books, and Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard University and co-discoverer of the first Alzheimer’s disease gene, will discuss the latest findings in brain research and how everyone from toddlers to parents to seniors can maximize their potential brain power.

On April 3, 2013 at 7:00 p.m., well known author and naturalist Richard Louv will speak about his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Louv, who has written for The New York Times, The WashingtonPost, The Times of London and other major publications, coined the term Nature-Deficit Disorder™ which has become the defining phrase of this important issue.

Online ticketing for upcoming talks will be available November 1st. See the Speaker Series web page for more information.