The Chubby Kid

What does it look like to foster creativity at school and work when so much has seemingly been lost in the blink of a Covid eye?

Victor Saad

Founder

I was the chubby kid in school.
Husky jeans, last one to finish the mile, zero pull-ups, a lot of Little Debbie snacks.

On top of that, I was one of the only immigrant kids in my small school in southwest Missouri. Most kids brought “normal American lunches” to school. I brought falafel and hummus — which to some kids translated to “poop.” Little did they know that they’d be paying $15 for a swanky hummus appetizer in their thirties, but I digress.

Luckily, I was outgoing and learned the charm of self-deprecating humor. I thrived, not because I was smart, but because I was creative and flexible (figuratively speaking). I leaned on my amazing teachers and drew connections between small things that would help me succeed in my own way.

Some Things Have Changed

Today, education looks very different than my chubby younger years. Zoom, screens, pajamas, being late to class because your camera isn’t working, trying to understand your teacher when the internet keeps dropping, constant texting/chatting, and lunchtime at home, without friends.

And that’s not just school for kids — that’s school for college students, PhD students, and even work a lot of parents.

Someone pass me a twinkie, this is stressful.

So what does it look like to foster creativity at school and work when so much has seemingly been lost in the blink of a Covid eye?

Shifting Power

First, the power of education, especially for higher education, is shifting drastically from institutions to students. This has been in the works for a while, but the pandemic really sped things up. Sure, there are a few brand name schools that will always have a certain grasp on the market. But the rest are more at the mercy of students and families than ever before. Scrambling for enrollments, colleges are doing what they can to adapt to online learning and show that it has the potential to still be a rich learning experience.

So if you’re in high school or college, now’s your chance. What do you want school to feel like or look like for you? You have a real opportunity to propose new ideas to your teachers and administrators. And if they won’t listen, do it yourself. If you want to take six months or a year to design your own education, now’s your time. It won’t “hurt your resume” and you won’t “fall behind.” The goal is no longer finishing, it’s adapting.

For educators, you have the same opportunities. Sure, some of your bosses have closed the door on anything new. But the good ones are open to ideas. Your school, and more importantly, your students, need your ingenuity.

At Ei, we’ve been asking ourselves:

  • How might we engage all five senses in our virtual classes?
  • How might we help our students and workplace professionals connect on a more human/personal level?
  • How might we make space in online learning for tinkering and hands-on exploration?
  • How might our classes, projects, and even live sessions take participants away from their screens?

You probably have your own questions. And you may have jotted some interesting ideas. I know you’re tired and the world is overwhelming, but it’s also ripe with possibility. The next time you have some renewed energy, use it to try something you’ve been meaning to explore.

And to those of you who have students or staff in your care, you have a huge responsibility on your shoulders. But you don’t have to bear it alone. Listen to your students, peers, and employees. Invite them to share ideas and to take ownership of their learning like never before.

Things are changing, and they might be changing for good.

posted by

Victor Saad

Founder

I’m an author, educator, and community builder living in Chicago. I started Experience Institute, an organization helping college students and career professionals learn and grow through short-term, real-world experiences.

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