Creativity is a muscle

It’s a great thing that the athletics and drama departments at Mount Desert Island High School found a way this year to support both the stellar fall musical and the stellar football team, adjusting schedules so that students and their supporters would not have to choose between a playoff game and a performance on the same night.

“This is a great spirit of cooperation between the arts and athletics,” Principal Matt Haney said. “It says a lot about our community and our school.”

Music teacher Michael Remy has said the pep band is “pretty wildly popular throughout the school. I have football players regularly high-fiving me and band members in the hall. I have athletes in my classes. There’s nothing but support and appreciation, and that’s pretty cool.”

For one thing, such cooperation supports the idea that students — and adults — need not choose between cultural lanes called “smart,” “creative,” “athletic.” Rather, our schools and communities provide lots of opportunities for anyone interested in stretching in new directions.

The physician, the researcher and the computer expert play in the town band or in one of two community orchestras. The therapist, the event planner and the boatbuilder perform in community theater. Visual art and traditional crafts abound, as do opportunities for teaching and learning these skills. Software development, 3D printing, novel writing, philosophy, higher mathematics, history and foreign affairs all are discussed and practiced at events open to the public at our libraries, school adult education programs, Acadia Senior College and at the College of the Atlantic.

The school district here is in the midst of a push to incorporate creativity, a sense of being a “maker” and “design thinking” into all aspects of the curriculum.

Often, it’s in the jumping between different parts of the brain that we make important connections. Albert Einstein attributed much of his scientific insight and intuition to music.

“Whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work, he would take refuge in music, and that would usually resolve all his difficulties,” his son Hans told a biographer.

Often, after playing the piano for a bit, he would reportedly get up from the bench saying, “There, now I’ve got it.”

Research suggests that reading literary fiction improves the reader’s capacity to understand what others are thinking and feeling, their capacity for empathy. Other arts similarly help develop habits of reflection, appreciation and thoughtfulness that make life richer. That’s something to be very thankful for indeed.

So here’s hoping we all continue to stretch, explore and puzzle. Every kind of human endeavor requires creative problem solving, at least from time to time. Creativity is a muscle that everyone has. Good for the schools for encouraging everyone to exercise it.

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