Kickstarting my Creativity

Throughout November, Kickstarter is encouraging people to start projects that require input from others in order to be completed. When I saw their video I knew I had to take part.

I’ve often spoken about the need for community spirit in creative endeavours. Being part of sporting clubs now and in the past, I’ve often been in awe of the support offered on and off the field. It seems everyone attaches to a club wants the other members to be better. It makes sense because it’s a team environment but creative pursuits are often individual. This means that artists are often removed from situations where they can be provided with feedback and direction.

This Kickstarter initiative plays in the same space.

As it’s my first attempt at running a crowdsourcing project, I’m very nervous. It’s only three days in and I’m already freaking out. There are so many doubts.

Have I set my target too high?

Are my reward prices too high?

Does the project page read well?

Does my title stand out enough?

Should I have made the project duration longer?

Fortunately, Kickstarter put me on to a Facebook group where I’ve already received some feedback. I’ve put some of this in place but other things can’t be changed once the project is launched.

Even if it doesn’t get off the ground, participating in this event has proven beneficial. When setting up the page I listed my creative achievements and it’s the first time I’ve collated this into a list. So now, as much as I’m nervous about the project, I’m quietly confident in my own abilities as an artist because I’ve realised that my creative cv is something I should be proud of.

It’s technically not even up to date too. The following image is from Realistic Poetry International’s “Poets are Heroes” magazine and I’ve received an email stating four poems of mine are going to appear in a new anthology – both bits of news coming after I set up my project page.

So, what is my Kickstarter idea? I’m writing poems for people. Basically, people pick the size poem they want and, if the project reaches its goal, I’ll ask them for information that will inform the writing of the poem. If you want to find out more, here’s the link – http://kck.st/2hzSYl1

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I Could Quit Teaching

The school system sucks. We all accept this. There are regular changes to curriculum and the way in which material is delivered but, for the most part, we trundle out the same old crap.

Walk through almost any school today and you’ll still see four walls, rows of desks, uniformly in dress and a teacher up the front doing “chalk and talk”. You’ll find variations on this theme too. It might be three walls and a concertina or sliding door. You might see a U shape, groups of desks or a long conference-style table. The teacher might even use technology to get their point across. Regardless, schools are still factories trying to churn out round pegs for all those round holes in society even if those pegs are square when they walk in the door.

It’s a multi-faceted problem. Its individual schools that do things by the book. It’s the education departments who dictate curriculum. It’s the government criticises teachers for dropping standards and combats that by increasing the workload. It’s the teachers who lack empathy, flexibility and tact. It’s the parents who are absent or ambivalent when it comes to the learning needs of their children. It’s the society who has abandoned the notion that it takes a village to raise a child and instead shirks responsibility wherever possible. It’s the kids who deliberately try to make life hard for people. It’s everything and everyone.

Schools don’t care about the mental health or the social skills of their students. They might claim to. It might be on their business plan. But! Therein lies the problem. Business plan. Schools are a business whose stock is measured by a system of numbers. What numbers? Standardised test scores: NAPLAN bands, OLNA and ATAR results. These are the details released to the public, these are the numbers that dictate funding and influence enrolments. When push comes to shove, these are the numbers schools use to determine their success. It is not about the students, it is about their results.

The union, which fights for the benefits of teachers, is equally uncaring when it comes to students. What does the union want us to do? Clock in when school starts, clock out when it finishes, work to rule.

I got in to teaching to help kids, to guide them through their tumultuous teenage years. But nothing attached to the school system seems to line up with that ideology. What’s important? Numbers, numbers, numbers, staff.

A robot could do my job better than me. An algorithm could measure student achievement, determine weaknesses and identify resources designed to foster improvement all in the time it would take me to call out the roll.

I could quit teaching. It would be easy. There are countless numbers of jaded staff working in schools across the world. I could join their ranks and either leave the profession completely or do a half-assed job of it.

I could quit teaching. But I won’t. When the system is broken and the whole world seems to be against them, who else will advocate for my students?

Honestly, and I could get in trouble for this, I don’t care about education department policy. I don’t care about government mandated standardised tests. I don’t care about towing the company line.

What do I care about? The kids!

I will do whatever I can within the four walls of my classroom to make sure my students feel respected, accepted and wanted. I will do what I can to brighten their day for the hour I have them. I will build them up, test their boundaries and push them to succeed NOT because it looks good on paper but because it is their future on the line. I will check in on them when they’re hurting. I will help them when they need it, often at my own inconvenience. I will treat them like the human beings they are regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or class. I will make mistakes because I’m human too but I will learn from them the way I expect my students to learn from theirs.

Why? Because I care and because I can. I got into teaching to help kids. If I wanted to work with numbers I would’ve been an accountant.

I can’t change the system but I can work within it to achieve my goal. I can’t change the wind but I can move my sails (or something like that).

Rant done.

Ron out.

Mic drop.

Peace!