“Many creative individuals—including Einstein and the graphic designer M. C. Escher—performed poorly in conventional schools. “In high school in Arnhem,” Escher wrote, “I was a particularly poor student in arithmetic and algebra because I had, and still have, great trouble with the abstraction of numbers and letters. Things went a little better in geometry when I was called upon to use my imagination, but I never excelled in this subject while in school.” Mathematics nevertheless played a role in his later design of artistic patterns. “Although I lack theoretical knowledge,” he observed, “the mathematicians, and in particular the crystallographers, have had considerable influence on my work.” Despite his poor performance in school, Escher understood mathematics, though in a way his teachers did not expect or appreciate.” (Root-Bernstein & Root-Bernstein, 1999, pp. 21-22)
This was a quote I opened my dissertation with in 2008 taken from the wonderful text, Sparks of genius: The 13 thinking tools of the worlds most creative people (Root-Bernstein & Root-Bernstein, 1999). These authors (like many since) discuss and promote the importance of appreciating differing ways of knowing and understanding. Learning is something that happens in many places and spaces and continues across the lifespan. As educators or practitioners, we need to be sensitive to these differences and keep our skills and tools “sharp” so that we can make adjustments to reach these unique and individual approaches, recognize these differences when we see them, and appreciate the richness that comes from these differing ways. As practitioners, we need to keep our “tools” flexible so that we can “bend” these when needed to reach all learners and allow them to show us what they can do and what they have to offer. As technology specialists and designers, we need to be sensitive to how different individuals access and use the tools–keeping in mind that not everyone can use the tools the same way. Explore the links and resources at this location, read the commentary, consider the content, and consider how these might influence your own perspectives. The more we encourage this philosophy, hopefully, the more others will realize the possibilities.