Creativity Workshop

Self-Awareness in Times of Solitude

In the midst of a global pandemic, we all have an opportunity to nurture our solitude and self-awareness. When the news of school closures and the importance of physical distancing broke two weeks ago, I was shocked.

Our lives changed quickly. Our worlds turned upside down. Routines dismantled. I wonder at times if I’ve watched so much Netflix that I’m seeing the world through the lens of a dramatic thriller. I wonder if I’ll wake up and this will have been an elaborate dream. I pray for good health every morning and every night–sometimes in the middle of the day too. I pray for peace.

In the midst of the worry and the discomfort, I know it’s important to find the blessings. I am lucky to have many blessings. A time of great change is a time of great learning.

This lesson is about how we can develop self-awareness about how we learn on our own or with others. How can we make the most of our solitude (without adding to our stress)?



Laura
By Jessica Outram

You could not even
see a dog walk the road

near Laura’s house by the solid river
sunken branches and ceramic trunks

in the woods he stopped by
sigh of sunshine sinking beyond the bay

passing day howls
and night thunder with cards
and pies and lullabies—

silence.


Let’s Create!

Make a list called “Why do I write thee? Let me count the ways.” Fill a page for each of your current writing projects to stretch your awareness of what you are writing and why.


How do you learn? When we reflect on our learning, our writing improves.


Write a mission statement for your life and writing so you will remember why you write… Post it in your writing space.


Exploring Multiple Intelligences and Relating Them To Your Writing

Read through the questions first, then skip below to the descriptions of the intelligences. Choose a way that works for you to explore them.


Discover

Highlight the intelligences that connect with the ways that you learn and put a star next to the ones that you avoid. Then create a plan for nurturing both.


Play

Google “multiple intelligences.” Find a quiz. Write about what you learn.


Relate

How do the intelligences affect your writing. How might they inform character development? The use of white space in a poem? The types of subjects you’re drawn to? How do the intelligences affect the ways you connect with audience? Do you appeal to all thinkers? What would the impact be if you broadened or narrowed your scope?


Self-Awareness and the Intelligences: How Do I Learn Best?

Sir Ken Robinson, an education and creativity expert says, “If we’re serious about exploring the world around us, we have to explore the world within us.” We learn through what we see, what we hear, and what we practice. What do learning processes look like? How do I learn in different ways?

Charlie is sixteen. He loves to play video games. His favourite sport is soccer. He enjoys puzzles and board games with numbers.

Pamela is four. She spends hours colouring and drawing pictures for her ‘mommy.’ She adores ‘Big School,’ a.k.a. Junior Kindergarten. She sings every day and loves to dance. 

Luke is ten. Boy Scouts is his life. Thomas is eight. There isn’t a sport he can’t play. Sharon is fourteen. She loves people and can brighten any room with her charming personality. 

Adults learn like children. We learn through nature, puzzles, arts, relationships, and books. We are naturally drawn to learn through different ways. Some may love going to lectures where writers share their personal stories because they are linguistic and interpersonal learners. Some may choose online courses that lay out an approach to fiction in a linear way because they are logical and visual learners. Some may learn how to write through their own work and reflection as intrapersonal learners.

In 1983, Dr. Howard Gardner (Harvard University) developed a theory of eight intelligences: bodily/kinesthetic, musical, logical/mathematical, linguistic, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist. Since then more intelligences have been researched and added to the list, like existential learners (people who learn through spirituality). Teachers are encouraged to appeal to all learners in the twenty-first century, to use a differentiated approach to instruction.

There are many benefits to knowing how I learn. Picture it: Someone has given me feedback that the use of point of view (POV) in my book needs to be more effective. I’ve been googling the concept for an hour and I’m biting back tears of frustration. The intelligences present me with options for developing my understanding. 

I could begin by looking for an info-graphic that demonstrates POV if I am a visual learner. I may need to compare my use of POV with another writer’s work if I’m an interpersonal learner. I may need to explore my thinking on POV as an intrapersonal learner. Or find a step-by-step approach for revising for POV as a logical learner. By knowing how I learn best I can seek opportunities that match my style. Over the span of my life, I hope to develop each of these intelligences so that I can learn in a multitude of ways. 

Generally, we do not lose intelligences. They may grow. We may add to them—but if I was musical at six, chances are I will understand life and concepts through music at thirty and at ninety-five. 

As a writing student and teacher I draw on the diversity of the intelligences as often as possible and the results are consistently incredible. Eyes light up. Students (teen and adult) are engaged.


Expand Your Self-Awareness. Here is a brief overview of the most well-known intelligences:

  • Bodily/Kinesthetic: You like to use body language. You are good at sports, dancing, or acting. You learn best by moving and touching.
  • Musical: You like to listen to music and/or sing. You are good at picking up sounds and noticing rhythms. You learn best through music. 
  • Logical/Mathematical: You like to ask questions and work with numbers. You are good at problem solving. You learn best by categorizing information and understanding relationships.
  • Linguistic: You like to tell stories, read, and write. You are good at remembering information. You learn best by saying, hearing, and seeing words.
  • Spatial/Visual: You like to look at pictures, watch movies, and/or draw. You have a good sense of direction. You learn best by visualizing and working with images.
  • Interpersonal: You like to have lots of friends and talk to people. You are good at resolving conflicts and seeing things from others’ perspectives. You learn best by sharing, working in partners or teams, and connecting to people.
  • Intrapersonal: You like to self-reflect and daydream. You are good at following instincts and being original. You learn best by working alone and having a private space.
  • Naturalist: You like to be outside and observe patterns in nature. You are good at seeing connections and classifying artifacts. You learn best by working with a partner and connecting information with events in nature.
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