Archive for October, 2009

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Cannibals and Bloody Axes

October 31, 2009

I love gross stuff. It’s probably a good thing that I’m the mother of sons because I definitely prefer snips and snails and puppy dog tails to sugar and spice and everything nice. I don’t like pink, frilly, ruffly things. Black is my favorite color. While I am not fond of real spiders, I am a sucker for any bug- or spider-shaped pin or earrings I see. Embed a scorpion in clear acrylic and I’ll be delighted to hang it around my neck. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I am a better big sister and mom and teacher because of it. I am always ready to create celebrations and costumes no matter what time of year it is.

Some passions are persistent. Many years ago, I had to redo an elementary school project about a famous American after I chose Lizzie Borden as my subject. I decorated the cover of my carefully-researched report with a construction paper and aluminum foil ax dripping bright red crayoned blood onto the well-known jump rope rhyme about this alleged murderer:

Lizzie Borden took an ax,
Gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

My teacher was horrified and told me to choose from her list of other more appropriate people to research (mostly men and that was part of the problem). Miss Borden was only one of many childhood reading obsessions that ranged from mummifying corpses to the Aztec civilization to the alleged cannibalism of the Donner Party to piranhas and how long it took them to strip the flesh from a cow.

My next memorable encounter with educational disapproval was in college. I was a home economics major and for my nutrition course project, which included a research paper and a class presentation, I choose to explore cannibalism. I was allowed into the vaults of the public library (I was an excellent customer!) and was able to take notes from original documents that included sea captain’s logs that recounted encounters with cannibals and provided recipes for cooking people. My research was thorough and meticulous.

I found recipes and copied them onto 3×5 cards for my classmates. I researched possible calorie counts and nutritional value of human flesh. I discovered that the palms of the hands and the buttocks are said to be the tastiest tidbits, and I shared all of this while my instructor sat in the back of the room and grew visibly angrier as my presentation went on. He didn’t say anything. The class loved it, but three days later, the chair of the department called me in and said that I should choose a different major—clearly I was not serious about home economics.

I got married instead of choosing another major, had a media career, and two sons. My sons are grown now, but I still recognize Freddy Krueger and Jason and Satan Claws and all the rest because I’ve seen their movies (I won’t see any more Saw, though). From Robert Louis Stevenson and Edgar Allen Poe to R.L. Stine and beyond, I’ve read lots of scary books too.

I’m currently a university professor who teaches language and literacy courses for K-12 pre- and in-service teachers, and I know that it isn’t just boys who are fascinated by the gross and the gory. Many girls are less finicky than cultural sugar and spice stereotypes might suggest, and also enjoy a safe scare or repellent reading. The popularity of the Harry Potter series and the current cultural obsession with vampires demonstrate that both genders enjoy beasts and goblins and other fearfully fanciful imaginings. In an interview about the bloody elements of his movie, Apocalypto, director Mel Gibson pointed out that given the choice of a story about fairies and a story about trolls who eat children, most children will pick the troll story every time.

I am not sure why I am not easily scared and why I am attracted to everything vile, gross, disgusting, and yucky. Is it because my grandpa used to let me listen to The Shadow and Inner Sanctum with him over my grandmother’s protests? Is it because I was born in Springfield, Illinois, where the Donner Party began their ill-fated cross-country trip? I still have a scrapbook with some of the articles I collected from the yearly newspaper insert that explored their alleged cannibalism. Is it because I had little brothers and sisters who needed to see that their big sister wasn’t scared? I don’t know. But I do know that my fascination continues today.

My demonstration unit for language and literacy class is called Yuckology 101: Vile and Disgusting Literacy Activities for Children of All Ages, and since it’s Halloween, I’ll leave you with a few repellent bits of information from that collection:

Hufu is tofu textured and flavored like human flesh. . .a lot of the pleasure is imagining you’re eating human flesh. . .If you really want to come as close as possible to eating human flesh, this textured soy product will do it. Originally, the idea was to market this product to anthropology students.
• Inventor of Hufu, 2006

I can’t go out the door without buying books. I collect art. I collect spherical objects. I collect postcard photographs of dead babies.
• Edward Gorey on what he collects

Slugs are things from the edges of insanity, and I am afraid of slugs and all their attributes.
• MFK Fisher (1937), Serve It Forth

In the 1860s, Thomas Edison developed a device to electrocute cockroaches.

In ancient Japan, farting contests were held with prizes awarded for loudness and duration.

I hate feet, they’re disgusting. . .what are they even for?
• Peter Andre

When locomotives were first used in Egypt in the nineteenth century, fuels like wood and coal were scarce, so the Egyptians used something they had millions of—human mummies.

The members of the Dixie Chicks occupy their time [on the road] with a game
of “Would You Rather. . .” It’s basically a round of dares: would you rather do this gross, disgusting thing, or that gross, disgusting thing?
• Rhonda Wheeler (June 24, 2005), “Getting Ready for Summer Vacation on the Road,” Medford Mail Tribune, p 1E,

I never drink water because of the disgusting things fish do in it.
• W.C. Fields

Swallow a toad in the morning and you will encounter nothing more disgusting the rest of the day.
• Nicholas de Chamfort

What were you interested in as a child that still fascinates you now?

I believe implicitly that every young man [or woman] in the world is fascinated with either sharks or dinosaurs.
• Peter Benchley, author of
Jaws and other disgusting things

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Confessions of a Homecoming Princess

October 30, 2009

WARNING: Disgusting content in this paragraph. I’m going to tell you a secret that ranks right up there with having a twice-weekly cooking column in a newspaper in my pre-teaching professional life, something I rarely share with anyone unless they are seeking a little-known fact about me to use in some sort of trivia game. I talk about this secret I’m going to tell you less than I do about having farted myself awake in high school geometry class. It was the last period of the day. It was hot. I sat next to the window where the sun flooded my desk.  The teacher droned on and on. I drifted off, and KABOOM—loud and smelly—startling me from slumber and delighting as well as disgusting my classmates. My advice: having two bean burritos at lunch may not be a good idea if you have classes in the afternoon. We moved away from Santa Ana and left my nickname, Smelly, there.

So here’s my seldom-told secret: I was a homecoming princess when I was a college undergraduate. That probably doesn’t sound all that unusual to you, but remember, I was also a mom with a full-time job and I’d been out of school for twenty years before I went back to get a degree. People like me weren’t homecoming princesses. Except that they were at my school in part because of others like me who kept reminding the system that we older students were there too. (Note: People like Smelly weren’t high school homecoming princesses either.)

And that’s another secret of camaraderie: There are lots of people at any college or university who are hoping that you will want to get involved. These people work with special programs, they help with clubs and other student organizations, they work in student services, they organize activities of all kinds, they assist you in the library, they are a crucial part of orchestrating your experiences, they are everywhere, and they really want you to succeed. They also need your help. They need students who want to get involved.

At first, it can feel like you are just nibbling around the edges of involvement. You may not know where to start. You may feel like an interloper, like you don’t belong. Unlike high school, where breaking into cliques can seem almost impossible, in colleges and universities, the real cliques are formed by the committed, people who are willing to give their time and energy to something, people who can be counted on, people who take responsibility for helping to make sure things get done.

Finding a need is the first step. Sometimes, there is already an avenue to address the need. You can find these opportunities for service and involvement in the student newspaper. You may read about them on campus bulletin boards. They may come in the form of all-campus emails or you may hear about them on radio or television. You don’t have to limit your involvement to on-campus activities. Often campuses are active in their communities and there are opportunities to work on projects that are linked to your personal passions and to your career goals.

If you have a personal need, getting involved can provide the opportunity to create something that addresses it. Generally, if one person is in need of something, others can use it as well. Here’s an example from my own undergraduate days: I was a commuter student (known then and sometimes still as a “non-traditional student”) and I wanted to connect with others like me. After talking with staff in student services, I found out that there was a defunct club that I could reactivate. I also got involved in Student Senate. I volunteered to help organize other opportunities for older students. These and other activities not only helped me connect with a wide circle of students who shared my concerns about childcare and parking and other issues, they also led to writing a proposal for a non-traditional student handbook as part of a fellowship offered by the school. That fellowship paid for my last year of college. The work I began then, two decades ago, continues here.

This is another pragmatic reason for involvement. Often people who grant scholarships are looking for a student who is already demonstrating what kind of contributor s/he is likely to be after graduation. That’s why you’re often asked about extracurricular activities and community involvement in applications. If you’re someone like me who was already juggling lots of responsibilities, you may need to pick these activities wisely so that they benefit you as well as others since you may have less time to get involved in things just for fun, although I would never discount fun as a perfectly valid reason to do something. After all, I was a homecoming princess!

What kinds of extracurricular or other volunteer activities would you like to get involved in?

Everybody can be great.  Because anybody can serve.  You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.  You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve.  You only need a heart full of grace.  A soul generated by love.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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No Fun Whatsoever

October 29, 2009

Yesterday, I wrote about how mid-terms were often a difficult time for me. No one who researches fun in school can ignore the fact that school is often not fun for students. I’ve had many conversations with strangers about school. Once someone finds out you’re a teacher, the floodgates of memory often open and the river of kudos and complaints flows out. I’ve listened to many stories about wonderful teachers and, fortunately, not as many about teachers who can still, years later, bring tears to a former student’s eyes.

One of the questions on the fun survey I’ve been distributing for more than two decades asks respondents to “feel free to describe a time when learning was NOT fun for you.” Probably one of the most important reasons to make friends in school, to join study groups and clubs, and to participate in other activities is because these things can help make school fun even when what’s happening in the classroom isn’t. There are lots of reasons for “no fun,” as you can see in this found poem compiled from survey responses:

It’s Not Fun When. . . . .
A Found Poem from Zinn Fun Survey Responses

you are made to look like a fool by the teacher for not understanding the subject matter.—Man, age 22

you are bullied and scared.—Woman, age 34

you don’t understand and are scared to ask questions, so you get lost.—Young man, age 17

the teacher doesn’t know who you are—after six months.—Young woman, age 16

you are told that you cannot be who or what you’d always imagined you could be.—Woman, age 61

you have to take notes all the time and not talk about what we are covering.—Boy, age 9

the teacher yells.—Girl, age 10

you can’t read.—Man, age 34

the teacher drones on and on and on, just loving the sound of his own voice.—Woman, age 24

the material has no relevance to me and I have no motivation to learn.
–Man, age 36

people make fun of you and the teacher doesn’t stop them.—Boy, age 11

the teacher is in a bad mood.—Girl, age 9

there are things on the test that you never studied.—Man, age 40

there’s too much homework and no time to do it.—Young woman, age 16

it’s boring, you are lost, feel completely inadequate, dumb.—Woman, age 49

the teacher had favorites, like in P.E.—Woman age 46

Teachers are human and sometimes they have bad days. Sometimes, especially in college, teachers know lots about their subject and less about managing human beings in the classroom. I hope you’ll appreciate these people and be generous with their shortcomings while also getting all you can from their courses. I’m not trying to make excuses for us. I try never to hurt someone’s feelings or make a student feel stupid. I am never deliberately confusing, but sometimes what’s happening in my head isn’t translated onto the page or through my mouth as clearly as I might wish. I know that I am not alone in hoping that my actions are helping students learn, not hindering them, but sometimes, even though a teacher’s intentions are good, the outcome is not, as in this story from an adult recalling something that happened many years ago:

It happened in second grade—I loved school and all the friends I’d made. I talked to them in class. In honor of me, she said, the teacher created the chatterbox and drew it on the board. My name was the first name written in the box. I was humiliated. I became the quietest person in the class. Nobody could hear me any more. We had to draw a picture illustrating “as quiet as. . .”—I drew a turtle. A boy in the class drew a picture of me. I quit writing so you could see it—my handwriting was so light it couldn’t be read.

This teacher probably thought she was handling the student’s talking with humor, and never realized the unintended consequences of her actions. Things like this may happen to you, in class or with friends. Sometimes it’s appropriate to speak up immediately and let the person know the effect her or his words or actions actually had. While there are times to do this publicly, particularly if someone has been inappropriately disrespectful, I do suggest that students adopt the same kind of strategy recommended for teachers: have the discussion in private, state your case in a non-accusatory manner, allow the other person to clarify, listen, be willing to problem-solve, and determine productive ways to move past the incident.

In one of my favorite Peanuts’ cartoons, one of Charles Schultz’s characters says, “Try not to have a good time. This is supposed to be educational.” Fun in learning truly is about being fully engaged in personally meaningful educational experiences. Sometimes systemic realities or things that happen in the classroom are not fun, so what are you going to do about it?

What’s not fun for you in school—and what can you do to change things?

I’ve realized that sometimes the only thing I can change is my attitude.
• SOU Master of Arts in Teaching student, 2009

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Mid-Terms: A Time of Trudgery

October 29, 2009

It’s mid-term time, a time I sometimes found to be very difficult, not necessarily because of the tests and other assignments that were due, although I didn’t always enjoy those things. No. The difficulty was more general. I was halfway through the quarter, too late to walk away without losing my hard-earned tuition dollars, and wondering why I was paying to put myself through the agony of tests and studying. It was too early for me to feel really successful in my classes and I was still wondering if I “got” it—if I had mastered the kinds of studying I needed for a particular course and if I understood course content well enough to demonstrate it to an instructor’s satisfaction. No matter how confident I felt personally, until that confidence was tested—often quite literally—I couldn’t be sure.

Some quarters were easier than others; everything flowed smoothly, but others were difficult. There were several times when I was tempted to just walk away, but I never did. Here’s one of the things that kept me going besides friends and family who were cheering me on: a quarter or semester is finite. Time passes quickly, and the term will soon be over. No matter how difficult a course is, no matter how much work you have to do, if you keep working at it, you will get done. Mid-term may be a little too early to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s there and it will appear.

During my doctoral program I often felt overwhelmed, so much so sometimes that I included the word “trudgery” among the terms and concepts I provided clarifying definitions for in my dissertation (pp. 68-69, Learning • Teaching • Leading: A Patchwork of Stories from a Non-Traditional Life):

Here’s what I wrote in my dissertation:

Trudgery: A blended word that combines drudgery and trudging along. I coined it in a journal and continue to use it when working with other students to explain how we often just put one foot in front of the other and keep on going—one step at a time, one assignment at a time—even when the work to be done seems overwhelming in the light of other life responsibilities. As I wrote in my journal on November 17, 1994, while I was teaching high school fulltime and taking master’s degree courses at night:

Trudgery. Drudgery. Too much to do. Trudging along. There are times when I leap and dance and spin in the air, when the learning excites me so much that I can stay up all night and never feel it, not even when I must come in and face rooms full of teenagers. But there are other times when the different drum doesn’t beat. No music plays.

Discouraged, disheartened, I nonetheless move forward, one foot in front of the other because this is what I do. I hope. And in the hoping, I keep on moving even though now seems bleak. I cannot live in it. I trudge. One step. Another. Another. Into joy’s light again. Faith•full. I wish that school could be less trudgery and more delight, and I don’t understand why it isn’t. And yet I don’t even seem to be able to always make it so myself.

You can see from this journal entry that my own experiences as a student and as a teacher, especially when I was both at the same time, influenced my interests as an educator. The things I write about here come from my life and I hope they’ll encourage you to save pieces of your life to help you understand yourself and achieve your goals. Meanwhile, it’s mid-term week and I recommend you reward yourself when you finish it successfully. When I can manage it, I like to take a day off from work and studying, but since that’s not always possible, dark chocolate works too.

What treat can you realistically give yourself when you finish mid-terms? Even though you don’t need it, you have my permission to give yourself a reward.

The most essential factor is persistence—the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come.
• James Whitcomb Riley

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Will This Be on the Test Too?

October 27, 2009

Have you ever studied for a test only to find that although you studied hard, you couldn’t answer many of the questions? I certainly have. It’s sometimes seemed to me that the teacher and I read entirely different textbooks or novels or that what s/he said during a lecture didn’t make it into my brain. The things that interested me and that I focused on weren’t being tested, making it appear that I didn’t care about the class. (I always loved it when teachers included a final question: “What didn’t I ask about that you learned?” I’ve filled pages answering that kind of question even when I could answer all of the questions on the test.)

My second quarter back in school, I reluctantly joined a study group. Honestly, I just thought I wouldn’t have time for it. I was in a class made up mostly of students who lived on campus, while I was a commuter with a family and a job. Finding a mutually agreeable time was challenging, but I found it was worth it as the weeks went on. Listening to other people talk about course concepts and information filled gaps in my learning that I didn’t even know existed. And as much as I enjoyed my best friend in school who was also an older student and a mother, I learned lots from listening to my classmates who were not like me, another benefit of seeking out a more diverse group of study buddies.

Here’s an activity I’ve used with classes when I’m recommending that students consider the benefits of forming a study group. Give it a try sometime with your friends:

You have one minute to make a list of all the things you see in this room. When time’s up, compare your list with a neighbor or two or three. What do you notice?

What students notice in class is that their neighbors have often “seen” different things in the very same room. Our brains work differently whether we’re listening to a lecture or viewing a film or reading a textbook, and this is a good reason to consider studying with others. You gain additional perspectives and have your attention drawn to things you might not have considered otherwise. Explaining your thinking helps reinforce it or helps identify areas where your reasoning is faulty.

Another benefit of the listing game? Noticing what you notice can provide you with additional insights into your learning preferences and can help you study more effectively since you’ll also become more aware of the things you don’t notice.

It took me several quarters in school before I gained enough confidence to ask a teacher what would be on the test. While asking wouldn’t have solved all my studying problems, it could have helped me target things the teacher considered important. Note: It can be annoying to the teacher if a student is constantly interrupting to ask if something will be on the test since it can appear that this is the only reason s/he has for paying attention. This is another benefit to being part of a study group. You can share the burden of inquiring with your group, remembering to ask at appropriate times, not in the middle of a lecture, for example.

Another strategy is to approach the teacher during office hours, after class, or via email, and say something like this, “My study group was wondering if you could go over your expectations for the _____________ (fill in the blank: term project, research paper, final exam, etc.) at our next class session. We want to be sure to maximize our study time together.” This sets you up as someone who cares about the course and reminds your teacher that other students may be wondering about course requirements too.

Be bold. Even if you’re part of a group, you’re probably not alone if you are confused or unsure about course requirements. Many times I’ve asked what I thought were blazingly obvious questions only to be told later by another student, “I’m glad you asked about that. I was wondering too.” And even if you are the only person who is confused, you deserve clarification. You’ll probably do much better on that test.

The listing game is fun to play at the first meeting of a study group. You can do it just about anywhere and it’s a good icebreaker. Give it a try.

So many things fail to interest us, simply because they don’t find in us enough surfaces on which to live, and what we have to do is increase the number of planes in our mind, so that a much larger number of themes can find a plane in it at the same time.
• Jose Ortega y Gasset

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Keeping Your Friends in School

October 26, 2009

I only missed one class session while I was an undergraduate. I was compulsive about attending class and superstitious as well, afraid that a missed class might be the start of a slide into failure. There were many days when I didn’t want to make the drive or didn’t feel well or was tired, even days when the juggling of all my responsibilities gave me a good excuse not to go to class, but I went anyway, until the day my best friend Pam told me she was dropping out of school as I passed her on campus. That day I spent the afternoon talking with her in the student union instead of going to class.

Pam was an outstanding student who was also an English major who planned to be a teacher. We shared many classes and often commiserated about confusing new concepts and course requirements. We studied together, proofread each other’s papers, and shared parenting tips since we both had sons at home. I knew that if Pam dropped out she would be sorry, but I also knew how much I would miss her and how much I needed our mutual support sessions.

I won’t go into the details of her discouragement, but it was the careless words of a teacher that had wounded her and convinced her that school was not the place for her. Together we were able to put things into perspective and she promised to go back to the class. She did and went on to graduate. Years later, we still talk about the day she almost dropped out. The friendship that was forged during our days as unsure and worried older students has lasted more than twenty years. I sometimes felt out-of-place among all the students who were younger than I was, but with Pam, I felt at home.

This week’s theme of fun in learning is camaraderie. Key words repeated often in fun surveys that led to this theme include friends, group activities, sharing, feeling like part of something, safety, community, teams, relationships, and support. There were many days that Pam and I kept each other from dropping out of school with empathetic listening and shared laughter. She was also the first one I shared my triumphs with—my first A on a test, my first meaningful comment on a paper—not that my family didn’t understand and care, but just that Pam was sharing my struggles and knew just how much these things meant. I often think about the kinds of intellectual and emotional support we gave each other and wonder how to translate them into classroom camaraderie for my students.

Unfortunately, I also know that while I can set up classroom conditions that encourage camaraderie, genuine friendship cannot be forced, but must emerge from individual efforts both to find friends and to be a friend. I believe that this is a key element of staying in school, finding the support you need to help you keep going when you’re tired or discouraged or just plain wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into.

Much of my work as a teacher is with teachers; because of my previous experience in a dropout prevention program, I came up with “six Rs of dropout prevention.” As you look at these six things, you’ll see that connections with other students can be as important as those that students make with course content and with teachers:

The Six Rs of Dropout Prevention (Zinn, 2008)

Relevance: I have reasons to be here that are meaningful to me.

Rigor: Expectations are high, and I can get the help I need to build necessary skills, attitudes, knowledge needed for academic success.

Recognition: My efforts are seen, appreciated, and celebrated.

Respect: I am treated like a unique and valuable person.

Relationships: There are people here who care about me and about whom I can care.

Responsibility: I am supported in the developmental processes of becoming a lifelong learner and can make meaningful contributions here.

Last spring, I suggested to my colleagues at the university that each of us, regardless of our job, should consider ourselves dropout prevention specialists. You can be one too.

What kind of friend are you? What kind(s) of friends do you need?

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “What! You, too? Thought I was the only one.”
• C.S. Lewis

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Give Yourself a Little Space

October 25, 2009

I talked to my mother on the phone yesterday and she told me she hoped I would give myself a little space. She probably knows me as well as anyone does, and she knows how difficult I find it to turn off my mind, relax, and do nothing. I very seldom do nothing. I have so many things that I want to do.

Instead of worrying about what to write today, I’m going to share some of my favorite quotations about space, about taking time to just relax and think (or not, if that’s your preference) and then I’ll finish reading Twilight (Stephenie Meyer, 2005). I should have already read these books (I have Meyer’s New Moon and Eclipse waiting too) since I teach about adolescent literature, but I’m behind. The upcoming release of the sequel to the first movie reminded me that I should know what the fuss is about.

I collect quotations and have thousands of them written on 3×5 cards. I categorize them in Ziplock© bags and store them in old suitcases. Of course, you can easily search for inspiration in other people’s words on the internet, but many of the words I save come from my everyday life: people I know, things I overhear, the newspaper, magazines, movies, television. Some of my quote cards are categories I collect somewhat indiscriminately like quotations about breasts (I have an art exhibit called Breast Wishes and am working on a related book that includes the more than five thousand quotations I’ve collected about this cultural obsession), but others, like the ones that follow, are words that resonate with me and remind me of things I don’t want to forget.

There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.
• John Cage

If you are a writer you locate yourself behind a wall of silence and no matter what you are doing, driving a car or walking or doing housework, you can still be writing, because you have that space.
• Joyce Carol Oates

Perhaps it would be a good idea, fantastic as it sounds, to muffle every telephone, stop every motor and halt all activity for one hour some day just to give people a chance to ponder for a few minutes on what it is all about, why they are living and what they really want.
•James Truslow Adams

Even the wildest dreams have to start somewhere. Allow yourself the time and space to let your mind wander and your imagination fly.
•Oprah Winfrey

Reason is like an open secret that can become known to anyone at any time; it is the quiet space into which everyone can enter through his own thought.
• Karl Jaspers

A child, as well as an adult, needs plenty of what in German is called Spielraum.
Now, Speilraum is not primarily “a room to play in.” While the word also means that, its primary meaning is “free scope, plenty of room”—to move not only one’s elbows but also one’s mind, to experiment with things and ideas at one’s leisure, or, to put it colloquially, to toy with ideas. . .
•Bruno Bettelheim “The Importance of Play”

If you think that we are each original combinations of genes that have never existed before, you must pause with wonder as a new child strives to become himself or herself. But in our haste to get things done, be efficient, save time, keep the schedule and avoid harm, we rush children through childhood. For we are a very busy culture with little time for quiet thought or contemplation. It takes immense patience to allow children to learn at their own pace and through their own mistakes. Perhaps it is only vanity for us to think we can better past cultures by jumping to maturity without having exercised growth.
• Ann Wiseman (1973),
Making Things: The Hand Book of Creative Discovery

We need quiet time to examine our lives openly and honestly. . .spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order.
•Susan L. Taylor

Make an empty space in any corner of your mind, and creativity will instantly fill it.
• Dee Hock

Inner space is so much more interesting because outer space is so empty.
• Theodore Sturgeon

It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.
•Gertrude Stein

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response is our growth and our freedom.
• Viktor E. Frankl

Our time here is magic! It’s the only space you have to realize whatever it is that is beautiful, whatever is true, whatever is great, whatever is potential, whatever is rare, whatever is unique, in. It’s the only space.
• Ben Okri

Contrary to what we usually believe, the best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times, although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.
•Mihaly Csikszentmihaly

Whenever you read these words, promise yourself that as soon as you can, you’ll take at least an hour and do nothing—or something—In whatever way makes you happy.

My most creative mode occurs in the bathtub. I’m a horizontal thinker.
• Marty Gibson