20% Time at Google inspired by Montessori School Philosophy

Scott Berkun’s article about Google’s 20% time mentions that the Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page shared during their talk at TED that the Montessori school philosophy influenced their ideas on 20% time. I find it stunning that a school-philosophy triggered what I believe to be one of the most amazing concept for a work environment.

For those of you that don’t know: Google’s 20 percent time is a well-known part of their philosophy, enabling engineers to spend one day a week working on projects that aren’t necessarily in their job descriptions. You can use the time to develop something new, or if you see something that’s broken, you can use the time to fix it.

Here’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s (not so recent TED) talk (jump top 8:50 if you want to hear the Montessori part):

spend one day a week working on projects that aren’t necessarily in their job descriptions


Online Visual Portfolios and Web Presence for Art Teacher and Students

I’ve been training my interns to develop a web presence and online visual portfolios. (And this might help HS students, too)
I have gotten a few jobs from just making prototypes of what I wanted to do in the future.
Making arts learning visible and designthinking are themes for me this year.

I want to create something like this…… the story of the studio in comic book form

Of course, I’m an entrepreneur so I’m always thinking of marketing and building creative community.
I’ve been a teaching artist for 24 years and have taught in a variety of scenarios.
I’ve always been able to find work doing what I love. And I’ve needed to keep growing into new opportunities.

Yes, it’s a lot of work.
I think of it as my happiness and life purpose.


I’ve been collaborating on the Tate Modern’s Turbinegeneration Project and just got off a call about improving the site /functionality.
I said that giving new teachers a form toolkit would be really helpful.
For example, photo release form, letter to parents / students / teachers / administrators about the project, philosophy and links, how to participate, press release blurbs for school newsletters, ect.

fyi …..here’s some planning, promotion and advocacy resource links …..


I’ve also been very amused by Frank Chimero’s Classroom Rules (for his college aged students)


Empowering Kids to Create Their World

Empowering Kids to Create Their World

K-12 Lab is a new initiative that was started several years ago at Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. Our main philosophy rests on the idea of design thinking – an orientation that new, better things are possible and that you and I can make it happen. Engaging students in design thinking means helping them to be aware of the situations around them, to see that they have a role in creating them, and to decide to take action towards a more desirable future.

Four principles we hold to in design thinking:
1) Human-centered. We believe that we achieve innovative solutions by getting out and talking to experts and users both to immerse ourselves in the problem and to test our ideas.
2) Bias towards action. We act and try rather than sit around and debate.
3) Prototype-driven culture. We fail early to succeed sooner. We value a rough and rapid mentality to refine our solutions.
4) Mindfulness of process. We know where we are in the process and the direction our project needs to go next to get better.

Students are more engaged and achieve greater learning when they have ownership over real world projects in areas that they care about. Tackling huge multidisciplinary design challenges brings relevance to discipline material. Rigorously working in heterogeneous groups to create something meaningful gives students the opportunity to be innovative, creative, and collaborative – skills they will need to thrive in the 21st century.

Proof: every great scientist was not only accomplished in his field but in fine arts as well

great art reflects what is happening in our physical world and often predicts our scientific future. For example, he writes that while Picasso probably didn’t know Einstein, his Cubism was developed about the same time that Einstein first published his theory of relativity.

Robert Root Bernstein, a MacArthur Prize Fellow studying at UCSD 20 years ago, took it upon himself to look at the biographies of the top 100 scientists who lived over the last 200 years. What he found was startling because he found that every great scientist was not only accomplished in his field but in fine arts as well. Not surprisingly, Bernstein says, “(there) shouldn’t be two cultures as currently exists, one favoring artists and the other scientists.”

“Teachers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are discovering that by adding an “A” — the arts — to STEM, learning will pick up STEAM.”

To swim in a rainbow of creativity

“In a 2008 survey of 5,000 child psychologists in 29 countries (including the U.K., Canada, France, America, Japan, etc.) the overwhelming majority agreed on five key points parents need to know:

1. Gifted children are created – not born.

2. How children learn and think is more important that what they learn and think.

3. When learning is fun, children learn more, and quicker.

4. Most children are never taught how to learn most effectively, so most merely memorize data for the short term.

5. Because young children have minds that are virtual sponges, they are most receptive to learning in the formative years (3-8) and it is during this age that they form their core root personality and form their thinking processes and patterns. Somewhere between ages 8-10 this programming stops and their minds “lock” so how they analyze and solve problems at age 8 is generally how they will do so at age 28 and the rest of their lives.”

Cultivating creativity in our children and ourselves starts with a willingness to dream

Edwards knows it’s hard to teach creativity. He also knows it doesn’t require a craft kit. What it does need is a nurturing environment where ideas flow, the imagination plays, and parents or teachers or mentors or friends really listen.

Such an environment – call it a sandbox or a lab – is built around dialogue and open-mindedness. “It’s an environment that encourages the creative mind and fundamentally the environment that makes us believe in our dreams.”

And it can happen as easily at the family dinner table as it does at the water cooler where co-workers and friends toss around ideas – as long as listening happens.

“I can’t overemphasize the importance of listening to idea development,” says Edwards, who teaches at Harvard University’s school of engineering and applied sciences and oversees ArtScience Labs in the U.S. and France. “You have to listen really, really carefully. And that happens when you grow up in a family where you’ve got to listen and people are asking you what do you think.

“It’s a telling of my dreams, but also listening to what everybody is saying back to me,” he adds. “People invest in our dreams when our dreams become their dreams.”

nurturing environment
listening to idea development

“People invest in our dreams when our dreams become their dreams”

The Five Habits of Great Innovators

For more than a decade I’ve studied history’s most creative strategists–from Napoleon Bonaparte to John Boyd–and compared their thinking habits with those of their modern peers–Grameen Bank founder Mohammad Yunus or Tesla CEO Elon Musk. I have found five thinking habits that stand out:

  1. Mental time travel
  2. Seeing the interconnected system
  3. Frame-shifting
  4. Disruptive mindset
  5. Influence

The article is interesting also…..

Art Portfolios for High School Teachers and Students

I teach ages 5-11 currently.

But if I were creating a HS short term program and hoping for high results  ……. I would model it after 

Particularly, if I needed a lot of recognition and advocacy to secure a choice job.

I’d collaborate with the kids to build a blog on the project.     
I’d collaborate with them on how to build a better choice art space for high school students.
I’d use posterous.com, flickr and vimeo.  
As  homework, I’d require them to post their projects on the blog and comment on other projects with ideas and constructive ideas.