If school had been right for us, we wouldn’t have a nation of adults that have waited for coloring books labeled “adult coloring books” to do something creative. School beat it out of us, one worksheet at a time. It made many of us feel like we aren’t creative, or worse, that a score rated us as incapable.  It pushed us along on the conveyor belt until we gave in. Conformed. Joined the masses. And stopped coloring outside the lines. It’s a sad reality that we don’t really think about, until we look at the school system that is in front of us.

10583971_10153367174363325_8377820887259269185_nFull disclosure: I just spent almost every second my holiday break creating. When I wasn’t creating, I was sleeping. I painted, glued, made, sewed, and cut. My canvas this time was our home and I didn’t ask anyone for permission to make every room as bright and colorful as possible. Fortunately, my husband knew what he was getting into when we married many years ago… I love color. The more the better.

One day, while I painted a chair, I heard a story on the news about the shortage of colored pencils taking place across America over the holidays, because of the “adult coloring book craze.” I smiled. Have we all been deprived for so long?

And the only thing it tells me is that we have an obligation to make (pun totally intended) school more for our kids. Because we don’t want them to require a personal invitation to get creative when they grow up. We want them to hold onto to that very thing that exudes joy in learning from us all, no matter our age… play, exploration, curiosity, creativity, and learning. And maybe, if we’re lucky, we can get it back for ourselves.

Because at the end of the day, when you imagine a conversation between your LED light, the battery, and the copper tape, you’ll know that you’ve fallen off the conveyor belt of conformity, and it feels great.  You’ll know that it’s silly, a little weird, and the way the google eyes on the bulb make it look alive will make you smile.  And you won’t care about any of that. The people who will say you’re “hobby” is a waste of  time?  Let them.  Because your inner soul will be smiling in a way that it’s meant to.   They just never got off the conveyor belt, and it’s not your fault.

But the kids you teach?  Now is your chance to help them.  And it turns out, that will make your inner soul smile, too.