Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What's On The Television?

I'll admit it that my kids watch television.  There are several shows that I wish my kids never watched and fail to see why they find some show entertaining.  To be fair, I'm sure my kids wonder how I can sit and watch a game a not root for a specific team.   However, I am intrigued by some programs my kids (ages 8, 8 and 4) will sit down and watch. 

They are big fans of DIY's Yard Crashers.  On DIY Network's Yard Crashers, landscape expert Ahmed Hassan waits at stores looking for homeowners who could use help revitalizing their yards. Once he finds an agreeing participant, Ahmed and his team completely transform their yard in a matter of a few days.  They will also choose to watch Cake Boss or Top Chef and have figured out how to DVR these programs.  Lately, the younger ones have also developed a liking for Project Runway.  On Project Runway The contestants compete with each other to create the best clothes and are restricted in time, materials and theme. Their designs are judged, and one or more designers are eliminated each week.  Through a series of elimination challenges one designer is selected as the winner.

I have never sat down and formally surveyed my kids about why they find these shows interesting.  I can confidently assume that they are both entertained by some of the designers and are amazed at the finished product.  For someone who struggles to put anything together, I am blown away with what designers are able to execute.  Despite the challenges or better yet intentional obstacles embedded into each episode, participants are able to think so far outside the box that the outcomes serve as a source of inspiration for the audience.  This is evident in how popular these shows have become and how many different demographic groups find interest in design-inspired showcases.

To an extent, I think some of these design inspired shows such as Top Chef or Project Runway can inspire conversations about education and in particular, experiences occasioned for learners. These shows are about creativity, problem solving and the design process (with a little TV drama built-in to the filming as well).  These three principles can serve as a guide as educators conceive of creative problem-solving endeavors within a course, independent study, capstone project or internship opportunity.  Using these shows as a template, we have to encourage students to consider innovative approaches when solving complex problems and mentor students to construct unique processes to produce outcomes that represent growth and understanding. 

So while I hope that my kids spend their time wisely and for productive pursuits, I also do not mind if they are learning from the creative energies of some talented individuals.