Why Do Projects Work?

My son has been working on his Pokemon wall for months. He's spent hours sketching, drawing, cutting out and taping each character on his wall. Some of them are his own creations. Others are from the series. However, each one has a name and a personality and a power.

It's amazing to look at (as an admittedly biased dad), but only because he stuck with it for hours. There's a cost to any project worth doing. Mistakes were made. Papers were torn. Tears fell. He asked me, at one point, when it would get easy, "When do I get the thing in my head to match the thing with my hands?" The answer is never and that's okay. At some point an artist, author, chef, actor all realize that the outward work is better than the perfection in the mind.

So, it has me thinking about the factors that made this project work:
  • Time
  • Passion
  • Freedom
  • Failure
  • Courage
It has me thinking about the last project we did in class. It was a Scratch video game project. It bombed. Half the kids didn't finish their games. Some gave up out of fear, others out of a lack of desire and still others because they simply didn't have enough time. 

I'm not sure what I need to do make it work, but my son's project is reminding me that there's no magic formula and the answer can't be found in taking shortcuts. 

John Spencer

Professor. Maker. Speaker.
I want to see schools unleash the creative potential in all teachers to transform classrooms into bastions of creativity and wonder. Read more →
Email me at john@educationrethink.com for speaking inquiries on design thinking and creativity.


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