I have a very special post this week from Ana Molina Hita, a teacher and musician in Madrid. I came across Milagros, a band Ana formed with girls she teaches, on Kathleen Hanna‘s blog, and I was hooked. I contacted Ana, and she turned out to be clever, warm, funny, passionate, and engaging. She’s the kind of teacher kids dream of. In addition to Milagros, Ana started another project to nurture her students’ self-expression through writing. Please check out both of these inspiring and lovely projects. I promise you will love them.
Ana offers us her ideas on creativity and education. Take it away, Ana!
We often forget music is a language. Everybody seems to know the importance of learning different languages in order to travel, or what is even worse, in order to get a better job so we can get a better life, whatever.
In the last 30 years, we have faced a lot of changes in society. but, apart from this fever with foreign languages that, at least in Spain, is such a failure, nothing has really changed at school. Nowadays we learn Spanish and maths in the same way our parents did. There’s a hierarchy of subjects that offends the principle of diversity and the principle of enjoying learning. We are facing a global crisis and we need solutions and people able to find those solutions. Here is the important point where creativity has massive significance because creativity is the process through which we create something in response to what we need.
Working on creativity at school doesn’t mean that everyone may be an artist. Most people relate creativity with music and art, but it has to do with life, with the will of kids to live. Creativity is an important tool for living better. Anyone can be creative. Everyone has skills or interests that can make their lives better. Helping kids to find those interests and skills should be our main goal at school.
To find what we like doing is such a blessing.
As a teacher, there’s a moment you realize you are not taking care of your pupils’ will to live. That’s when you have to stop and wonder what is wrong.
I’m afraid the whole thing is wrong. That takes me to the pessimistic view where I’ve finally landed. But when it seems you can do nothing about it, at least you can try to spend quality time with your pupils whenever you are able.
The Writing Project I’ve been developing throughout my last 5 years at school is basically based on chaos. I just let my pupils write anything that crosses their minds in a little notebook. The less you tell them what to do, the more they write. It is important not to force them. They will write the day someone tells them they are good at it.
They like writing when they realize nobody is gonna mark their writings or judge them. They can tell you how fat their uncle is with the same passion they tell you they’re heartbroken.
I don’t know how pure my pupils are (I guess 100%), but I’m pretty sure their writings are pure as gold. As a friend of mine once said, it’s like watching raining. And funny as hell.
We cannot pretend to instill love for literature in our children if they don’t love language, and they won’t be able to love language if they can’t even use language when teachers come into the classroom. To love language, we have to enjoy using it. And I can prove school is not the place where children are most allowed to use it (I’m afraid I tell them to shut up around 24 times every 24 hours).
Politicians and their education laws do not help at all. They insist on keeping things the way they are. They use education to keep culture always the same. We teach the way others taught us. This way teaching becomes a process of symbolic reproduction.
They make us believe they are improving education by changing the name of certain subjects and the way we evaluate students. We should stop changing the way we evaluate our students as if that was the most important part of the process. The most important part of the process is the process itself.
As Sir Ken Robinson says, what pushes a child to not stop walking is not the goal of going walking everywhere. It’s just his/her nature to keep on trying. And same happens to learning.
Education is the place where learning happens. Kids can do nothing but learning. And it seems we are not making the best of this fact.
Milagros is within a Creativity Project. It’s not only about music. It’s about the will to live that children possess. It is about finding tools, interests and habits that could make our lives better.
I´ll never know if it works, but meanwhile we´re having fun.
Ana Molina Hita is a school teacher and musician from Madrid. She teaches music to kids from 8 to 13 in a public school where kids come from all over the world. Apart from Milagros, she plays in a pop band called Hola a Todo el Mundo.
Even though she claims that the essence of creativity and the essence of schooling are contradictions in terms, she believes there’s a need to incorporate creativity into our educational system, despite the system.
Check out Ana’s many projects: