This podcast is the second in a series of podcasts with highly creative people. I am interested to see if there is anything to learn from creative people in terms of reforming education, especially as it relates to digital and media literacy.
Amber Nussbaum is a 24 year old graphic designer for a Fortune 500 transportation company and my oldest daughter. She is without a doubt one of the most creative people I know. In this podcast she shares her own thoughts on creativity, her growth as a blogger (she has been at it for 8 years), and her memories about receiving her education as an unschooler.
Here are Amber's Show Notes:
1. Amber introduces herself.
2. Examples of the creative projects and venues with which she finds herself involved.
3. Amber describes some of her home improvement projects and the magazines that have featured her work.
4.She defines creativity: "Looking at what you enjoy most in life and putting that as an outward manifestation of yourself."
5. Amber started blogging at 16. She didn't know that was what it was called at the time. It started as a Web site where she would post her poetry and her ideas trying to find her voice. She had something to say and wanted a place to gather her thoughts. She wasn't as concerned about audience when she got started as she was about documenting her thoughts.
6. Next, she moved to Moveable Type, she has been using it since the first version became available. She began promoting local band's shows and would post news, pics and blog about upcoming shows and after show performance reviews.That was when Amber's site really started getting some real traffic. She wrote for BlogCritics.org for awhile, writing record reviews.But then when she switched Web hosts she lost a lot of her files and took her site down from frustration.
7. Aug. 2004 she put her domain back up. She describes her blog as a mishmash of her life and creations. But rather than just blogging as a journal or diary, she uses her blog to document her life in photography and as a way to help others learn how to do the projects she has recently mastered herself.
8. Amber averages about 1500 unique hits per day. (After this podcast recording Life Hacker featured an artsy home improvement project she did and she got 6000 hits in one day.)
9. Amber helps out artists who display their wares on Etsy.com, a site with all original pieces by independent artists. Typically, she will feature one item and it will sell in a few hours due the numbers of readers looking at what she posts. Amber says it is satisfying to feel she is helping the artist while giving the person who buys the object a beautiful piece of art and giving her readers something lovely to look at on her blog.
10. Amber describes how her unconventional schooling experience helped her to become the self-directed, creative thinker she is today. She credits he way she was taught for her ability to think critically. People will say to her, "Oh you are a knitter... Where can I take a knitting class?" Amber didn't know how to respond as she never took a knitting class. She believes in using books, the Web, and folks in her network online to learn new things. Just like she use to do in her homeschool.
11. Amber encourages us all to go after things yourself rather than depending on someone to teach you. She describes how the web provides community and how by reading "do it yourself" information found on other like-minded blogs, she has made real life friends. Some folks say that socializing on computers distances you from true human touch. But Amber argues that it is not so today with blogs and other social networking sites. She connects with others all the time who like the same things she does. No matter how obscure what you are into is-- the web will help you find others who love it too.
12. Amber shares how her early experiences online shaped her Internet use today. Only old people used Telenet and talked about it, no one her age. But she knew about it and connecting with others online in 1993 in our homeschool got her attention. She felt invested in the Internet as a communication medium.
13. The creative process for Amber begins with being somewhere and seeing something wonderful and taking out her camera and capturing the moment and then coming back and blogging about it. Often her real life experiences will inspire her creations. In terms of her Web site, Amber fears that some might think it is "nerdy" but pretty much all the time she lives her life thinking this moment would be cool to post about. She likes sharing her experiences online.
14. How can creativity improve education overall? Amber shares creative lessons she remembers from her middle school experience. "Giving a kid a camera is giving them power. The power to create." She recalls having to be "in character" all day as part of a book report project.
15.Teachers might be intimidated by giving their students the amount of control over their learning she had in her educational experience.But Amber feels that being in charge of her learning helped her graduate in the top spot of her college class. Her education taught her to make decisions.
16.Amber compares college "read a book and take a test" to the more organic way she learned in our home. She said when you are vested in the learning process, you want to learn.
17. Amber describes the learning experience of going different places... being there and doing it. "Retention is amazing when you are taught like that."
18. She feels college should be more project-based. She describes an engaged, creative lesson done in one of her art history classes.
19. The most incredible moment of the interview was when Amber called me a dynamic instructor who is passionate about what she is teaching. It was a defining moment for me, both as her teacher and her mother.
20. A passionate teacher is "that teacher"- passion makes the difference!
21. Forced learning doesn't appeal to Amber at all, even in the world of work. If you feel vested then you are going to be 100% there in the process making it happen.
22. Her theme is "If you feel you have a stake in what you are doing you are going to give it your all."
23. Since she has an authentic audience via her blog she puts more into refining her writing. She feels this would work for students as well.
24. Problem/project- based learning requires more work from the teacher-- but cool things will come out of it. Teachers will have to give more of themselves, but it will make the product more valuable. Being creative means taking risks.
26. "How many of you remember stuff you did in the 6th grade? Well I do. Because I was a part of the learning. I was in charge."
27.Give a kid responsibility and they will act responsible. Give them the opportunity to create.