Middle School Energy

I’ve been working as an intern for the Language Hunters nonprofit organization, partnering with Corbett Middle School to teach the Language Hunting approach to language acquisition and accelerated learning. Which is a fancy way of saying I’ve been playing games in Irish with preteens for the last month. Four weeks into our nine-week program, we’ve learned a lot about middle schoolers, our approach, and about gameplay and learning in general. We’ve hit an exciting turning point where the students are starting to have “aha!” moments about how the game works, and really delve wholeheartedly into joyous play.

It wasn’t easy to get there, though, for us or them. In two class periods with about 50 students each, we found that managing the delicate flow of a Language Hunt game faced several severe obstacles. The number of players, the chaos of adolescent social dynamics, and of course the compulsory educational environment, even in so progressive a school as Corbett Middle School.

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Soft Focus

Focus is my eternal enemy in creativity as well as all other aspects of my life. Don’t worry though; it’s an enemy that I thoroughly  vanquish every day. Never has the dread spectre of focus taken hold in my mind without being banished in mere minutes to the outer reaches of procrastination and distraction!

In all seriousness, this is a big deal—maintaining focus on things I want to accomplish, even things I’m passionately drawn to, has never come naturally to me and my creative life is marked with milestones of guilt and disappointment at skills unpracticed, works unfinished, muses unheeded. I’ve tried all kinds of regimens and tricks to try and make myself do what I long to do, but always my idle, distracted self asserts itself and scatters the fragments of Dream to the winds as I fill my head instead with trivia, amusement and hipster pap.

I imagine I’m not alone. But if you’re entering these chambers today in expectation of some wonder method to revitalize your art and practice, I’m afraid I’m in the trenches right along with you, struggling to triage my own stagnant creativity. I can’t promise easy answers, but let’s journey together, and see if we can’t uncover a few insights, shall we? Continue reading Soft Focus