Monday, May 21, 2012

How does Bird learn?


No, not that bird! Andrew Bird!

Two weeks ago, I was working in Chicago. Fortunately for me, being there means that I'm closer to some of my favorite children's media people, including Sabrina and Erin. After an afternoon sipping tea, talking about research and puppetry, and watching Sabrina be an awesome mom, I headed out to the Andrew Bird concert in the city with Erin.

Andrew Bird is legend in Chicago, and I was about to find out why he was able to pack the beautiful Auditorium Theatre. Bird's musicianship was evident from the first pluck on his violin. Though I had listened to his music previously, I was unaware at what an amazing live performer he was: blending instruments and sounds, recording and looping music in the moment. His performance of It's Not Easy Being Green moved most to tears and got some of the loudest applause of the evening.

Beyond being a musician, Bird made it clear that he was an artist. That night, I continued to think about Bird's learning style, and what he must have been like as a student. His music was disciplined, yet free flowing; precise, yet abstract; strategic, yet spontaneous. How does an educator nurture such talent and help a student find balance to foster artistry? My inclination is that we allow students' natural abilities and interests to guide the curriculum we feed and support. You never know what may inspire the talents of young people to fulfill their greatest potential.

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