Creativity, Daydreaming, and Cat Videos

Think about this question and answer honestly.

Do you ever check your Facebook at work? Personal text messages?  Something online that is not work related?

If you answered “yes” (which if most adults reading this were honest, they would probably say yes), do you feel bad about it? Is there a little bit of guilt?


Now think of this question.

Do you ever check your work email during your own personal time or time at home?  

The answer (again) is probably “yes”.  

Yet the guilt is probably less with this one.

This has become the blur of our world.  Our personal seeps into our professional, and vice-versa.

I will be honest with you. When I was working for the school division, sometimes, what I needed more than anything, was a funny cat video. My brain was fried, and I just needed to step away, have a laugh, so I could recalibrate.  As an adult, I have the luxury to figure this out for myself.

Yet, when we look at our students, do they have this same opportunity to have a “check out”?  To check a message, or read something of interest?  Do we focus on helping students use their time wisely, or how we see fit for them at that point?  

This is a shift in thinking. Instead of focusing on “do what I say”, do we focus on high quality learning in our classrooms? Could sometimes checking out when an individual sees fit, actually be of benefit?  This is not a cut and dry issue, as some students will take advantage of the opportunity to check their phones as they please, and check out of their learning entirely. I get this.  I am not saying that schools should be a “free for all”, but I want you to think about this from your point of view first.  People reading this will have a range of ways that work for them. This could mean total focus and zero multi-tasking.  This could be having three devices in front of them at any time.  This could be focusing on one thing for ten minutes, and then checking Facebook for two, to “recalibrate”.  The differences between we as adults, is probably the same as it is for our students.  Schools should not only help students learn, but learn about themselves as well. What works for them? What ways help them to excel in their own pursuits?

Standardized solutions do not suit the uniqueness of each individual.  The expectation should not be on compliance, but on quality and depth of learning.

Here is something that I will acknowledge. Some of those “cat videos” have inspired ideas in me that would not have happened without them.  Just like the idea of some time your best ideas find you in the shower, or on a run, or when we daydream.  

Think about it…We say we want students to be “creative and innovative”, but we sometimes literally stop them from daydreaming.

In this article, “Daydreaming Kids May Be Brighter, Say Scientists”, cognitive therapist, Dan Roberts, shares the following:

…if your child is a bit of a daydreamer, I certainly wouldn’t worry about it.

As this new study on working memory suggests, appearing distracted or absent-minded may be a sign that your child’s brain is more adept at performing a number of different tasks at the same time, rather than having to concentrate hard on one thing after another.

While parents do have to encourage their children to knuckle down, both in school and when slogging through homework, it’s crucial that we don’t make kids feel bad or inadequate just because their minds seem to wander.

For brighter children, a great deal of their schoolwork is likely to be mundane, so their daydreaming may also be a sign of boredom. If so, the key is to find subjects that stimulate and engage them, rather than getting frustrated or impatient when their attention flits about.

Daydreaming should not be seen as a negative, but something that we can tap into for a world that needs creative thinkers, innovators, and dreamers.

Let me state clearly. This is not a cut and dry issue, and teaching is an extremely tough and complicated job.  Again, this is not about having students run rampant and do whatever they please, whenever they please. The purpose of this post is to just make people think about the changing expectations that we have for ourselves in our changing world, and the often stagnant expectations that we have for our students.  If our focus is truly on quality learning, creativity, innovation, we have to understand that a culture of compliance does not foster this for adults, nor our students.


Source: George Couros