Learning, Service

Using The Arts To Inspire Learning-Bill Strickman

I came across this TED talk years ago and can’t resist watching it a few time a year for inspiration.  I home school my kids and to the chagrin of my facilitators, we use most of our school funding on what they  consider to be “craft supplies”-I call them “project learning supplies”.  I love this talk and the other two I posted from Ken Robinson.  I think together they are totally paradigm changing and highly entertaining.

Bill Strickland Makes Change TED Talk
Bill Strickland Makes Change TED Talk

Bill Strickland was living in a rough side of town, going to high school and barely hanging in there when he came across the arts department where the teacher was making pottery.  Fascinated, Bill inquired about the class and basically said that if it wasn’t for pottery, he would have never graduated.  He does end up graduating and going on to do amazing things.  In this talk he speaks about the vocational schools we has set up for those living in poverty and how successful they have been.  He shows us the beautiful campus’s he has helped build, each one having a fountain in the courtyard because “poor people deserve water”, and all the beautiful art work that graces the halls.  I love, love, love his thoughts and idea’s.  I love the way he values all his students by providing a beautiful uplifting environment in which to learn (instead of the usual ‘bare minimum’ environments that many of the ‘schools for the poor’ tend to have).

Bill Strickland’s journey from at-risk youth to 1996 MacArthur “Genius” grant recipient would be remarkable in itself, if it were not overshadowed by the staggering breadth of his vision. While moonlighting as an airline pilot, Strickland founded Manchester Bidwell, a world-class institute in his native Pittsburgh devoted to vocational instruction in partnership with big business — and, almost incidentally, home to a Grammy-winning record label and a world-class jazz performance series. Yet its emphasis on the arts is no accident, as it embodies Strickland’s conviction that an atmosphere of high culture and respect will energize even the most troubled students.

With job placement rates that rival most universities, Manchester Bidwell’s success has attracted the attention of everyone from George Bush, Sr. (who appointed Strickland to a six-year term on the board of the NEA) to Fred Rogers (who invited Strickland to demonstrate pot throwing on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood). And though cumbersome slide trays have been replaced by PowerPoint, the inspirational power of his speeches and slide shows are the stuff of lecture circuit legend.

“With his potter’s hands, Bill Strickland is reshaping the business of social change. His Pittsburgh-based program offers a national model for education, training and hope.”Fast Company”
Pottery is what got it all started
Pottery is what got it all started

hope you enjoy

be sure to watch the ones on Ken Robinson as well 🙂

2 thoughts on “Using The Arts To Inspire Learning-Bill Strickman”

  1. Bear, it was so interesting reading this. I was just working on my second book where Maia has to transform a country that has lived with poverty and violence for a long time. Almost the first thing she does is restore fountains, pools and water features because water is so restorative. Hey, do you think they’s want me to give a TED talk? 🙂

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