Introduction to the event hosted at the Hurleyville Performing Arts Center by Jack Comstock
Today in this theater we will enjoy three dramatic pieces along with animations and documentary video productions. Student exhibitions from Creative Process and Written Media are on display in the upper lobby.
Imagination, creativity, and innovation trace the arch of the creative process. This fall season Homestead Collaborative College High School students began their year with an exploration of the creative process during their afternoon elective period. The intention of this course was to examine creative individuals across a variety of human endeavors to begin to tease out what living a creative life looks like. What are the elements of creativity? How do they come together synergistically to create objects and experiences that speak to our exterior and interior senses, our emotions, our spiritual yearnings?
In a world where a greater and greater amount of what we derive meaning from comes neatly packaged in an Amazon box or as the contents of our inbox, how do we set the imagination free, give it the skill and tools to express creatively, and then apply, refine and amplify that creativity? It is in this final stage of the creative process, innovation, that creativity finds its full expression and begins to rewrite our personal and cultural narratives.
This year we are guided by the theme of Sense of Place and Sense of Self. Our humanities integrated study area is named “Integral Cosmology.” In this course, students explored the origins of our Universe from the perspective of modern science as well as from the mythology of world cultures. Much of today’s presentation was born out of the student learning that took place in Integral Cosmology. I overheard a student early in the year make a remark that went something along the lines of, “Why don’t they just call it history instead of giving it such a pretentious name!” Fair enough!
However, at the core of Integral Cosmology is the Big History approach to world history and social studies, which is truly a course in cosmology. Cosmology, the study of the origin and development of the Universe, has traditionally been taught as either a philosophy or a physics course. Here at CCHS, we have expanded this siloed approach to the greatest story we can tell by approaching it through a holistic or integral lens.
Integral Cosmology, therefore, has as one of its primary aims to deliver a coherent, inclusive, and contextual understanding of human history by setting the human story where it belongs, in the larger context of the evolution of the Cosmos. Paired with this is the intended outcome that our CCHS students hone their skills as storytellers. To be a great storyteller first you must be able to connect with the story, to embody that story.
In our modern world, stories have been largely commodified, packaged for profit. In this context, we have created stories that often lack an orienting narrative, that leave us wanting and therefore coming back for more. We have also created stories that try to fill the need for a sense of belonging with the horrible results of cementing nationalism, racism, and materialism as cultural narratives.
When we look to science we can start to piece together the findings of the past few centuries to create a coherent chronicle of the evolving Universe. However, science with its focus on quantifiable and objective understanding only goes so far in creating an orienting narrative.
Integral Cosmology asks us to supplement the scientific story. When we look out into the depths of the vastness of space and time we are the Universe looking at itself. We are the Universe contemplating its own existence, peering into its own mysteries, trying to decipher the meaning that is inherent in its wildly creative unfoldment. Perhaps a Universe that gave birth to a species like us, endowed with imagination, creativity, and innovation might have been endowed with these qualities from the very beginning.
When we understand the Universe as a vast web of relationships that run across time and space while looking to the discoveries that are derived through the application of the scientific method of inquiry we arrive at an integral understanding of our place in history, we are learning to tell the story of an Integral Cosmology. We are expanding our sense of self and place beyond the narcissism, pettiness, divisiveness, and delusion that fill our world.
Essential to the student work you will see today and at the heart of drama is the exploration of relationship, meaning, and expression. As our CCHS students gain the tools, skill, and confidence as storytellers we hope that they will use their voices and art to amplify a new story that is emerging to guide our species into the future, a story that is relational and integrated, a story that is informed by the many ways of knowing that are available to us as humans. Today is a celebration of this process of learning.
It is time for a new story that will orient us to our place and purpose in life, but this is not a story that we can passively consume, we all must be co-creators of this story. We must each explore how our own personal story and purpose fit into the larger narrative and then add our voices and talents to telling and living this story. So, no, we are not just teaching history! Thank you all for being here to take part in this celebration, to be an audience for these stories and these emerging young innovators!