Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Consumer or Creator? What Are You?

My oldest daughter, Allison is a teacher. She’s been one all her life. Early on, she would line her dolls and stuffed animals up to learn their ABC’s. As a toddler she taught her stuffed bear to read. When I asked about it, she told me, “He can read, but he can’t talk. His mouth’s all sewed up.”
Allison was thrilled when we added a live student to the family. She was 4 ½ years old when her sister came along, but as soon as Danielle was able, Allison took her role as teacher seriously. Sometimes, too seriously. 

For example, right before Danielle was to enter first grade, the two girls “played school” all summer long. They would come to the cafeteria (kitchen) for lunch, go to recess (the backyard), then come to the media center (our family room) to have the librarian (yours truly) either read a book to them or watch a television program together. 

Tom and I only guessed the intensity of “summer school” when Danielle told us she wasn’t ready for first grade. “Allison only taught me my pluses,” she cried. “I don’t know my take-aways, yet!”

[By the way, the incident did no harm. As an adult, Danielle has happily and successfully home-schooled each of her own four children for their first few years of learning. Wonder where she got that idea?]

Ultimately, Allison studied secondary education and accepted a job teaching world history in the same district where I taught first grade. I remember when we went to the district wide beginning of school meeting together. My heart soared. 

I had occasion to sit in on a few of Allison’s classes at the high school. I watched as she engaged the students in powerful ways. She knew it wasn’t enough for those teens to learn the facts of world history. They needed to look at the world as a whole and understand how and why the actions of people shape history. How the internal policy or events of one country or leader works to fuel the actions of other countries.  

Allison made history relevant. But moreover, she created an atmosphere where her students learned to think for themselves.

Now she coaches teachers. We still talk shop. The other day I told her I know people who are basically intelligent…at least have the capacity to think…but don’t think for themselves. I said, “They’re intelligent but not smart. There’s a difference.” 

She understood. She calls it the difference between being a consumer or a creator. Allison was teaching her students in high school to be creators. To think for themselves and offer new solutions. She warned them against merely being consumers only of what others Say. Do. Think. 

I love all people. Even the unlovable. God expects that of me. 

But I like smart people. People with opinions they’ve formed on their own. People with ideas and possible solutions. I like those who don’t simply quote something they’ve heard or read, but are able to pull ideas together and see a bigger picture. 

I love consumers…but I really like creators. I like to spend my time with them. Consumers are, as my mom would say, a dime a dozen. But creators are priceless.

So are you a consumer or a creator
Consumers  watch the news or read a report and accept it at face value.

Creators  try to view everything from differing perspectives. They look behind the scene to the backdrop and don't only read the script. 

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