As a Accord3.0 Consultant, today I spent my afternoon at a successfully run after-school program called SpyHop Productions. SpyHop’s mission is to mentor young people in the digital arts to help them find their voice, tell their stories, and be empowered to affect positive change in their lives, their communities, and the World. They have diverse backgrounds and talents but many are budding composers, animators, filmmakers, sound producers, and computer graphic designers. It’s very hands on and a great space for teens to be in after school.
From the 40 or so students I saw and worked with today the SpyHop mission is clearly working. If you are interested in the great work they do they can be found here: www.spyhop.org
What we did today was basically a dialogue session that covered primarily 3 things:
1. We Modeled Creativity—we believe that these kids will develop creativity when they hear and see mentors actively engaged in the creative process. I brought in my jazz trio: with the ever talented Jd Moffat on guitar, Adam Overacker on bass and myself on drums and gave a hands on demonstration that showed the process of actually creating music through improvisation. We stopped a few times along the way to have a discussion of the creative process, cooperation, collaboration, being in the moment, seeing mistakes as opportunities, listening, improvising, and the balance between structure and space. The kids paid attention and could see the parallels of what we were doing and how it applied to problem solving.
2. Idea Generation–We then moved to a PowerPoint presentation that repeatedly encouraged idea generation and risk–these kids need to be reminded to generate their own ideas and solutions in an environment that is increasingly complex and somewhat critical. We talked about constructive criticism and the idea of “plussing”. In other words, if you are going to critique the collaborative effort do it in a way that is cordial and adds to the discussion of moving the project forward. Concepts of focusing on defining what the problem is, rephrasing issues into a positive, perspective, balance, listening, chunking up and down were all discussed in terms of the attendees film, sound, music and graphic design interests.
3. We also tried to Cross-fertilize ideas–one kid would say something regarding 3D animation or film that will in turn provide an idea for another kid that wants to create lyrics. The idea being that places like SpyHop are great places to collaborate and are what sociologists called “Third Spaces.” It’s where new ideas are likely to be generated and come from.
More and more of these young and incredibly talented image thinkers at places like SpyHop are being born into our world. We need to create our institutions to recognize this fact and help our youth–in fact anyone with the spirit of youth– to envision a world that has opportunities for all –if we can imagine it, we can create it.