By Rick Reynolds
Great teachers–and Chappaqua has a ton of them–trigger the creativity lurking in each and every one of their students, and gives it permission to surface.
Blemishes and all, creativity may perk out–or flood out, but the older I get, the more I see that it’s always present (if not accounted for) in every single kid. And it may be so unique, so original, so imaginative, so ingenious, so inventive, or so visionary, it’s not recognized as such.
Hidden in a sea of mistakes, creative ideas gestate, for mistakes are the growth medium for anything that’s truly new. Not permitting mistakes is the end of creativity. Unfortunately, tests go looking for mistakes to disqualify students. In the new world of digital citizenry, mistakes will be mined.
So now I’ll get off my soapbox and admit I don’t want my airline pilot misjudging our altitude by a factor of 10: “Ladies and gentlemen, we should have been flying over the Rockies, but as those of you in the window seats can plainly see….ARUGA, ARUGA, PULL UP, PULL UP!”
And I don’t want my cardiologist accidentally doing a 4-way bypass on my bladder. Thanks, I really don’t want to be a fountain. I’m sorry, but students destined for these positions cannot make mistakes. Either agree to be tested three times a week or get weekend detention. Don’t get me worked up.
I don’t even want the aforementioned professionals to have a sense of humor. No joking please, doc; not in the operating room. Cracking a joke during a Sigmoidoscopy should lead to a prison term–unless it’s the patient doing the stand-up (not my fault, I was disoriented).
No. Bridge designers, bungee jump instructors, and Congressional candidates, all need to be tested. I’m thinking plumbers too. Test them. Especially ones working on the floor above me. But the rest of us, maybe not.
My profession isn’t life or death. In my day job, I’m a marketing director, and I keep on the front burner of prospects and customers through email-based marketing. On one such recent eBlast, my self-proclaimed, perfect (SAT) scoring database manager (formerly of Goldman Sachs) asked me if I wanted him to filter out the dead people from our email distribution list. That momentarily set me back on my heels. Hell no, I replied. Not as long as their email accounts are active. Hey, you never know. Payment could be a problem (they say you can’t take it with you) but with PayPal, it might be doable. I mean, really! Some things you just can’t test for–like REALITY.
Almost everyone now agrees that testing is bad. We just can’t agree on whom, if anyone needs to be tested–or when. As a cross-borderline paranoiac, I’ve come to the conclusion that only I should be exempted from testing. After all, there’s a limit to how much damage I can do. If I adversely twist a few thousand brains, it’s not the end of the world. As for the rest of you who refuse to read my column, let the testing begin!
But seriously folks, those students who will eventually get us out of the mess we’ve made of this planet–or failing that, help us cope with the consequences, could well be those flying well under the academic radar. Relentless testing will likely only unearth yesterday’s unsuccessful solutions while screening the un-thought-of ones. In the end, enduring knowledge is self-learned, usually by those whose creative minds were triggered by great teachers. With global problems reaching critical mass, this world is going to need every kind of intelligence.
Chappaqua alumnus and 35-year resident of Chappaqua, humorist Rick Reynolds resides in southern New Hampshire with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.