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Wahl paints forceful picture of path to creativity

Artist and visioning consultant Erik Wahl wasted no time in putting paint to canvas, a large black canvas to be precise, after dashing on to the stage at the first General Session of the Conference.

As he splashed on bright yellow and red paints at a frantic pace, the audience first appeared puzzled by his picture, but Wahl's creation soon took on a pleasingly recognizable form. Suddenly the strange mass of swirling colors became a stylized view of the Statue of Liberty, her lamp burning brightly over head.

The athletic Wahl threw himself almost as forcefully into the address that followed. Constantly striding back and forth on stage and gesturing enthusiastically with both arms, he explained that while "every child is an artist," most adults have lost the ability to tap into the creative side of their nature.

Echoing his hero, Albert Einstein, Wahl quoted the scientist's observation that "imagination is more important than knowledge." Thus he urged the audience to tap into the right side of their minds when looking for new answers to old school leadership problems.

"In the western world we exist on our left brains well over 90 percent of the time," Wahl said. "We were taught to become ever more logical, efficient, cynical, busy. Our culture places a premium on being busy," he noted.

All of which means school leaders cannot always trust to their usual expectations when looking for a new idea or a new way of doing things. Instead, they need to step back and see their concerns in a way they've never seen before.

But how? Wahl had a simple suggestion: Study the masters—children: "Become a Ph.D. at the feet of your children. Bring public education challenges back to your kids. They don't see things the way we see them," Wahl explained.

A father of three boys, Wahl said: "They're my research pool, offering a new set of lenses with which to see the world," and he urged the audience to follow his lead.

Wahl concluded with this observation: "creativity is seeing logically what others see, and yet thinking differently about it." He reinforced his message about seeing things differently by painting another canvas. As before, the audience was puzzled until the end, this time it only became clear when he turned the picture upside down to reveal a portrait of his hero, Albert Einstein.

Earlier in the session, after posting of colors by the Phoenix Military Academy High School, Chicago SD 299, led by Sergeant Charles Powell, awards were presented for outstanding school architecture and for reducing workmen's compensation costs.

Presented by IASB President Ray Zimmerman, Flanagan CUSD 4, and exhibit chairman Russell Middleton, Middleton Associates, Inc., Normal, two "Awards of Distinction" were handed out in the 2005 Invitational Exhibition of Educational Environments.

One award went to Dahlquist & Lutzow Architects, Ltd., and representatives of their school design project, Hinsdale Central Learning Resource Center, in Hinsdale THSD 86. The other top award went to Healy, Bender & Associates, Inc., and representatives of their school design project, Liberty Intermediate Center, in Bourbonnais ESD 53.

Joanne Binotti presented the Risk Management/David Binotti Award to representatives of Geneseo CUSD 228.



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