Archive for Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A helping hand for creative students

KU professor wants to assist youngsters on nontraditional paths

May 17, 2006

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Lily Boyce wants to be an artist or an astronaut - or maybe both.

"I want everything," the Lawrence High School junior said.

At a time when many kids are focusing on practical career paths, a Kansas University professor is helping creative kids like Boyce follow their often-nontraditional dreams.

"In this world, young people who have creative goals are often discouraged," said Barbara Kerr, distinguished professor of counseling psychology.

Kerr and Robyn McKay, a KU doctoral student in counseling psychology, started the Counseling Laboratory for Exploration of Optimal States, a research-through-service program that provides career and school counseling for creative high school students across the state.

Sandra Wick, associate director of KU's Honors Program, said she'd seen a trend of students seeking vocational training rather than liberal arts studies.

"I do sense a growing pressure from somewhere that there has to be a profession at the end of these four years," she said. "It's kind of a sad thing in a way."


Lawrence High School students Peter Tuttle, left, and Tom Ashe play music together over their lunch break. They are part of a new program on mentoring and spurring creative high school students.

Lawrence High School students Peter Tuttle, left, and Tom Ashe play music together over their lunch break. They are part of a new program on mentoring and spurring creative high school students.

Melessa Demo, a counselor at LHS, said students seeking creative fields are fun to counsel, and she tries to encourage students to have a common-sense approach, even when their hopes may seem impractical.

"We don't crush anyone's dreams, but we also try to look at it objectively," she said.

Though their promise is great, creative kids whose passions may have them taking paths less traveled often don't get the counseling they need, Kerr said. Such students often don't face clear career ladders.

The program began this spring with nearly 300 Kansas students who were nominated by school staff. Kerr works with creatively gifted students. She uses a profiling technique that compares their personalities with those of gifted, creative adults.

Creative kids by Kerr's definition are bright, but they aren't necessarily a school's top achievers. Often they tend to be B+ students rather than A students, because they do well in courses they enjoy and disregard other courses, Kerr said.

Creative kids often have the ability to become engrossed in a particular pursuit.

Tom Ashe, an LHS junior, participated in the project. Ashe wants to be a musician and brings his guitar to school. He strummed it recently as he talked about his career goals.

"I know it's a long shot," he said of his dream to be a professional musician. "I'm ready to accept some sleepless nights and the poor lifestyle."

The pilot program will continue in the fall and next spring.

Comments

greyhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

macon47 Have you ever sought to be truly creative in your approach to something? It is tough, indeed. Nothing in this article stated or implied that these people were not being instilled with work values. If you want to make any sort of a living with a "guitar or box of paint", you have to seek inspiration, not wait for it to happen--and practice, practice, practice. And, did it ever occur to you that these creative individuals HAVE TO CREATE? They would go insane if they couldn't create. Sometimes the creative process is not enjoyable...it can be a compulsion.

Further, you seem to equate any creativity with the arts...understandable but short-sighted. Creative people are needed in every aspect of society, bringing their unique perspectives and and abilities to bear on the considerable challenges we face in our world. I hope this project is successful.

mom_of_three 8 years, 10 months ago

I think it is great that the schools are recognizing students with creative gifts. Some students who are more creative tend to do better in school when their studies are linked with their interests.

"Melessa Demo, a counselor at LHS, said students seeking creative fields are fun to counsel, and she tries to encourage students to have a common-sense approach, even when their hopes may seem impractical.

"We don't crush anyone's dreams, but we also try to look at it objectively," she said."

That is so much better than someone telling you "Forget about it, you can't make money, do something else" It sounds like it is career counseling, which is what some high school students could use. I hope it continues.

adavid 8 years, 10 months ago

macon--not any dimwit can do what they enjoy. something tells me you're pretty bitter about something. no one HAS to do anything. quit your job.

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