Can I just go back to 1st grade, please?

Can I just go back to 1st grade, please?

Sometimes I wish I could go back to first grade and never leave.  Not because of the lack of responsibility, or the excuse to have recess regularly, or the coloring sessions (while those are definitely amazing), but because of the true uninhibited desire to just do.

I had the pleasure of visiting a first grade classroom just outside of Boston early last week to observe and also try out the beta MyCreate iPad app.  While I do get into the classroom on a regular basis to remind myself on why we are building iCreate, this session was particularly inspiring and energizing.  Mostly because the students were truly engaged on a level that wasn’t constrained by what grade they were going to get or what anyone else thought of their crafty butterfly or if their clay caterpillar got smashed.  The only concern they had was – well – not sure they had any concerns.

My group of five bubbly first graders quickly went to work creating each stage of the butterfly cycle, while I set up the iPad.  An hour and about 100 pictures later, we had a very colorful short film highlighting a butterfly’s life stages.  Was it perfect?  Absolutely not.  Did you have to play the movie over a couple of times to truly get a grasp on what was happening?   Possibly.  Did the pinecone representing the chrysalis flow smoothly into the popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners representing a butterfly?  Not quite.  But the kids didn’t see these “imperfections” as adults would.  They could play their movie over and over, ecstatic what they made was – in their mind – an academy award winning film.  And the process to get there was pure fun.

Beyond first grade we become too critical of our own actions, worried what others will think and comparing ourselves to what “should” be.  This inevitably squelches creativity and life becomes stressful as we constrain ourselves into what we’re supposed to do, be, achieve.  In first grade, it’s not like that.  In first grade, we’re in the moment, turning crafts into caterpillars, and enjoying the process.

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