Tom Barrett

Jul 13, 2022

Mourn Those Precious Little Sparks

I was once asked, If a pea had a brain, how big would it be?

Questions litter the primary and early years classrooms, often strewn around randomly.

You only get a moment to respond— when the air around us is charged with curiosity—a moment to choose how to react.

Your response influences the dynamic of talk and wonder, whether you like it or not. The pocket-sized hidden curriculum encourages or dampens enthusiasm. Worst-case scenario: it can spiral into self-preservation.

These precious sparks exist momentarily, but the impact of our response to questions can last a long time.

Each of us is born with two contradictory sets of instructions: a conservative tendency, made up of instincts for self-preservation, self-aggrandisement, and saving energy, and an expansive tendency made up of instincts for exploring, for enjoying novelty and risk. We need both. But whereas the first tendency requires little encouragement, the second can wilt if it is not cultivated.

Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

How you react to ideas is comparable to how we respond to questions. Consider the response when new ideas are shared with your team.

I wonder how moments of judgement or encouragement cultivate the climate of our teams? My hunch is that over time, they shape our experience significantly.

Tom Barrett

Writer, coach and education consultant. Helping educators and leaders of innovation enhance their practice.