Today’s venture involved volunteering at 826michigan. ”826michigan is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills…” Like the other 826 chapters, 826michigan in Ann Arbor has a unique facade, making it “cool” for kids to come to tutoring & other activities. Ann Arbor’s facade is a Robot Shop.
Beyond the Robot Shop is a back room bursting with energy, creativity, & kids that haven’t even lost all of their baby teeth yet. I just recently started volunteering there & am slotted to teach a comedy writing workshop there in August. Since I’ll be leading a workshop, I thought it’d be a good idea to help facilitate someone else’s workshop to get a feel for them. Tonight’s workshop was “Choose Your Own Adventure” for 9-11 year olds, where the kids split into groups & created a Choose Your Own Adventure style story. My group’s story involved a mysterious spooky house that 2 young kids braved into.
I try to learn something from everyone I interact with, so it was no surprise that I took away 2 key learnings from these rambunctious aspiring writers:
These kids held nothing back. There were explosive bunnies, slimy dead guys, sounds of calking birds, broken paths, & more. Their use of descriptive adjectives was impressive for kids so young. They let their creative juices flow & came up with some really original ideas. Sometimes it takes experienced writers time & special exercises to get to such an original place. What led these kids to be so creative? I think it was their confidence. They weren’t afraid to share any idea they had. They had no filters. No barriers. They haven’t yet learned “social norms”. They live in an original place.
As we get older we learn “social norms”, we get rejected, we receive strange looks & as such we openly express less originality & creativity. There is a fear that our ideas will be rejected or our statements will meet strange reactions. That’s why we add a filter to what we say & do.
We can get back to that original place. We can be more openly creative. Tap into your inner 9 year old & remove the filters. Be original & have no fear.
Since the kids were openly creative, their ideas were all over the place. Ideas were bouncing off the falls & focus was hard to come by. That being said, patience is definitely put to the test. Have you ever worked with kids? If you have I’m sure your patience has been tested. Mine sure was. Kids needed to be reminded of things repeatedly & it took them a lot longer to read & write than it would have taken me.
The temptation to write for them or form their ideas into sentences without letting them put the pieces together, was tempting, but wouldn’t have taught them the best lessons. Instead, I made suggestions, helped when I could, but handed the pencil over to them to do the real work.
Creativity & Patience are great skills stretching beyond writing & working with kids. For instance, creativity clearly has applications in the business world. So does patience. And being a great leader involves being able to hand over the reins / delegate sometimes, even if it means waiting a little longer for something to get done because the person is learning. It’s key to growth & sustainability.
Try it out. Channel your inner 9 year old. Be creative. Be patient.
mel, the venture gal