Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What Does Your Brain Have to do with Liberace?

Wouldn't it be great if your brain was so wonderful and shiny that it was like the candelabra that Liberace always used to place on his piano?

You know, this one:

Well, I think it is.

You see, when a candelabra is all lit up, there's a whole assortment of lights all shining all over the place. Each candle gives off its own light, but it hits the other candles too. So there are rays of light crossing in every direction and bouncing off the other candles. Shiny!

This is how our mind works. Each kind of thinking fires off light in all directions. Our minds are natural connectors. Our thinking happens in a web.

And, you can use one candle to light the other ones. This is done in all sorts of ceremonies all over the world.

Now, let's think about what happens when one of the lights is extinguished. Say, the light that's all about visual thinking. Or music. Or dance.

Hm, now that candle isn't bouncing light around any more.

So a person who is a visual learner, might not get the best angle on how to write well. Or a person who thinks best when moving, might have to sit still and struggle with numbers.

But that's how we think about school subjects. We take the candles out of the candelabra, line them up, and then extinguish the ones we can't "afford..." the ones that are supposedly "enrichment" or "nice to have."

"Enrichment" is something you put on a package of bread. It doesn't do anything, just makes you feel better about buying it. That's all. "Enrichment" is something that you can do without. The arts are not "Enrichment."

When you put out one candle, the rest of the candelabra is a little dimmer.

This is not, unfortunately, how a budget spreadsheet works. A spreadsheet doesn't show how things are interconnected. It just puts things in a list.

Kids aren't born knowing what their talents are. They have to discover them. And they need to make as many connections as possible to figure them out. Each kid has a unique mix of abilities that depend on one another to function fully. Shoot, adults have to do this too.

The arts give kids the power to hold up their end of the conversation about who they are and how they think. Those candles have to be there for them to understand - and appreciate - their full range of abilities... and apply them.

So, go find a school or an organization that is teaching the arts - be it theatre, or painting, or dance or music, or video, or anything else - and give it some support. Send a check, volunteer some time. They are working to keep those candles lit, so the whole picture gets brighter.


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