Poking Boxes

Ever sit with an object and tried to figure out all the things it could do?  What noises it could make…  How it could move…  What you could pick up with it…  Then you’ve experienced “poking a box.”

Ever take a camera and shoot a photo of the same thing multiple times?  What angle should you go with…  What setting will work…  What background would be best…  Then you’ve experienced “poking a box.”

Seth Godin’s new book “Poke the Box” is an inspirational plea to society to get creative and get moving.  If you are to change successfully or move ahead, you need to poke the box a little bit.

As I am reading this ebook on my Kindle, I can’t help but think of how this relates to creativity in education and in learning for our students.  Wouldn’t it be great to allow our students box poking time?

I’m thinking of when I introduce percussion instruments to my students as we gather together in a circle for our first experience in a drum circle.  I invite them to try out all the sounds their instrument makes and then share with the class.  This could be the beginning of box poking.

I’m thinking of science lessons where students are expected to conduct an experiment.  Often the experiment is prescribed for them already with a procedure.  What if I allowed students time to explore the materials they have and poke the box a little before designing their own?  Or even if they then did the prescribed experiment, it may mean more after giving them structured free time.

There is a magical element here of creativity in a framework, freedom in structure too.  You may have certain limits, but you are free to explore.

Free to play.  We learn so much when we play

I guess that’s part of what I’m doing this summer myself with the Teacher Art Retreat…I’m poking the box and seeing what happens when I organize time for teachers to get together and create things, to explore materials and art forms, to play, and to poke a few boxes of their own.


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Article by Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth Peterson has devoted her life to education and to reaching out to other teachers who want to remain inspired. Mrs. Peterson teaches fourth grade in Amesbury, Massachusetts and is the host of www.theinspiredclassroom.com. She holds an M.Ed. in Education, “Arts and Learning” and a C.A.G.S. degree with a focus in “Arts Leadership and Learning.” Elizabeth is author of Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book that includes a method of music integration she has developed and implemented into her own teaching. She teaches workshops and courses on the integration of the arts into the curriculum and organizes the annual summer Teacher Art Retreat. Mrs. Peterson believes there is a love of active, integrated learning in all children and from their enthusiasm, teachers can shape great opportunities to learn.
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  1. Bon Crowder says:

    I haven’t seen that book yet, but I will check it out. I’m curious if he’s using the box idea because of the traditional thinking outside the box idiom.

    I’m reading Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind now. Will do Godin’s next.


    • That’s what I thought too at first, but the title actually comes from his brother making a box to be put in his nephew’s crib. The box had lights and sounds that were made by flipping switches and pushing buttons. The more the baby or toddler explored by “poking the box”, the more things happened. Cool huh?

      P.S. I love Pink’s A Whole New Mind… I hope you are enjoying it!

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