I have been mulling over a New York Times article, "How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off" by Adam Grant for a day or so. What particularly struck me was the quote "No one is forcing these luminary scientists to get involved in artistic hobbies. It’s a reflection of their curiosity. And sometimes, that curiosity leads them to flashes of insight." (Grant, n.p.)
While the article seems to be primarily geared toward parents, there is much in it I found useful. For one, it resonates a great deal with Howard Gardner's Unfolding vs. Teaching model.
In his book Art, Mind, and Brain, Gardner compares students and arts education with a botanical analogy:
Unfolding is putting trust in a student as you put trust in a seed to grow at the rate it's supposed to grow and become the plant it's supposed to become. Teaching is more interactive: the teacher is the gardener who transplants a seedling to an environment in which it can flourish. The teacher cultivates it and gives it the necessary nutrients to survive and flourish. Gardner's proposition is that a blend of both approaches the ideal. This blend acknowledges the trust that each unique seed will unfold, while teaching provides necessary support. (Gardner, 208-217)
The combination of both the article in the Times and Gardener's theory helps me clarify what I mean when I say that the Hangar's education programs are process based, not product based. Of course, there are certain structures and techniques we as teaching artists much enforce, such as diction, projection, learning of stage directions, etc. However, putting trust in the students to bring much of their own exploration and play within a container that allows for rehearsal time and performance dates.
Many of the thousands of students the Hangar has reached do not go on to become actors. In fact, most of them don't. However, by providing space for them to play and explore provides them an invaluable service of allowing creativity into whatever they do which, as this article states, is crucial in their lives no matter what their vocation.
There are other education programs that are product based. They weed out only the "best" students, and by best I mean privileged kids who have been forced into hours of voice, dance, and acting lessons at an age where they really should be exploring and expanding, not being molded into anything. I am incredibly grateful that the Hangar is not this way.
The article may be found here:
Works Cited in this post:
Gardner, Howard. Art, Mind, and Brain: A Cognitive Approach to Creativity. New York: Basic, 1982. Print.
Grant, Adam. "How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off." The New York Times. The New York Times, 30 Jan. 2016. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.