Are You Growing or Killing Creativity?

It’s been ten years since Sir ken Robinson gave his inciting Ted Talk, Do Schools Kill Creativity? Since then his books and talks continue to challenge us to transform education— to value varied talents, build creativity, and help people find their element.

Here are some questions and recommendations with quotes from his book Out of Our Minds, Learning to be Creative

“It is often said that education and training are the keys to the future. They are, but a key can be turned in two directions. Turn it one way and you lock resources away, even from those they belong to. Turn it the other way and you release resources and give people back to themselves. To realize our true creative potential—in our organizations, in our schools and in our communities—we need to think differently about ourselves and to act differently towards each other. We must learn to be creative.”  —Sir Ken Robinson


How do we help our kids be more creative?   Continue reading “Are You Growing or Killing Creativity?”

Book Review: InsightOut by Tina Seelig

Have you ever attended an author talk as part of a book launch?

The energy and excitement is palpable as you are experiencing the reality of someone getting their ideas out of their head and into the world.

Lucky me, I got to head to Palo Alto a few weeks ago to a Kepler’s Book  speaker series and listen to and meet Tina Seelig who was launching her latest book InsightOut. 


If the book is excellent, the author is an enthusiastic speaker, the audience asks provocative questions, and there are lovely refreshments to support conversation and connection after the talk, the energy and inspiration multiply. 

Book Review:Insight Out Get Ideas by Tina Seelig

Tina Seelig, a professor at Stanford University,  also wrote What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20 and InGenious: A Crash Course on Creativity.  Building on the ideas in her previous books,  Seelig defines and clarifies terminology in order to articulate a process she calls the Invention Cycle that can be replicated, practiced and taught. Likewise, you can look at the invention cycle and think about how you can use it for yourself and your children.  Seelig’s writing is very personable and she uses a wide variety of examples that can be adapted to other situations. She brings her work from the classroom with grad students, experience from interactions and research in Silicon Valley and around the world, and personal experience together to define an invention cycle and the attitudes and actions necessary to use and teach a process of how we can get our ideas out of our heads and into the world.

I loved the quote from her department at Stanford that she refers to in the letter to readers:

Entrepreneurs do much more than imaginable with much less than seems possible.

from page xii-xiii

As this message communicates, entrepreneurship isn’t just about starting companies. It’s about starting anything! Entrepreneurship involves building the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to see problems as opportunities and to leverage resources to bring ideas to fruition. This is just as relevant to those who are starting a rock band or planning at rip around the world as it is to those who are launching a company. The book presents a framework for bringing your ideas to life-whatever those ideas might be.

Yes, or any creative mom! 

Or engaged, active person!

I describe what we are hoping to help our children be and do by allowing them the freedom to unschool and initiate projects in a similar fashion, but I had never defined it as entrepreneurship. 

As an unschooler and a K-12 educator, many of the lessons Seelig describes are similar to activities I used in my classroom or with Dale and groups of home schoolers. I lacked the overarching definition of the Invention Cycle to explain to students and parents what I was aiming for. Her examples from the classroom and her interviews are very broad and show how each of the concepts can be applied in different settings. Most examples are related to business but can be extrapolated to working with younger students, your children or yourself. Each chapter ends with a project to practice putting the concept into action.

Certainly we should be helping our children learn these attitudes and actions long before they hit grad school.  When questioned during the talk, Tina said she hoped her book and work would help K-12 educators more easily incorporate the Invention Cycle in their classrooms and help make the shift in education that we need. More than a single lesson,or one time unit, using the Invention Cycle as a basis, we can give students the vocabulary, skills, mindsets and practice for how to approach solving problems and creating opportunities for the rest of their lives.

From pages 185-6

“ As described in previous chapters, there is an effective pathway through this process, from inspiration to implementation, with a requisite set of attitudes and actions:

imagination requires acitve engagement and the ability to envision alternatives

creativity requires motivation and experimentation to address challenges

innovation requires focusing and reframing to generate unique solutions

entrepreneurship requires persistence and the ability to inspire others

It is important to keep in mind that your attitudes are impotent unless you develop behaviors that bring those thoughts to fruition; and your actions are doomed to fail unless they are paired with the proper mind-set. By braiding together your attitudes and actions, you prepare yourself to do much more than is imaginable with much less than seems possible, not matter your objective.”

Read InsightOut and start using the invention cycle to help you and your kids get your ideas into the world.

Over to you:

What ideas are you trying to get out of your head and into the world?

What process do you use to go from imagination to implementation?

How do you define the words: imagination, creativity,innovation and entrepreneurship?

Let’s Talk in Person!

I love being able to have conversations online and having this home on the internet to share my thoughts. But what I love best is being able to talk in person, to speak one on one or with a group, to hash out ideas, to listen, to get physical, waving my hands, smiling, hugging,  the kinds of ways you get to communicate when you are up close and personal.

So here are a few opportunities to put on your calendar if you are interested in chatting with me, two for meeting my son, and link to conferences I won’t be attending but where there will be lots of great conversations with others interested in unschooling and taking charge of your learning. I hope we can connect!


Aug 6-9, 2015 Homeschool Association of California Conference

Helping Your Child Be HappyThis workshop will be an introduction to the strategies and tools to help your child be a joyful, successful life long learner. Participants will share their current challenges, brainstorm in breakout groups, and be guided in creating concrete action plans for their child.

I  will be offering a workshop at the conference August 6-9. It is not free, but has been a valuable conference  when we were homeschooling.

Read about our past HSC Conference experience here.   Plus you can see Class Dismissed  and meet the director, Jeremy Stuart.

Please email me if you think you will be at HSC so we can plan to connect.


May 2  Bay Area Homeschool Fair.


Aug 6-9, 2015 Homeschool Association of California Conference

Helping Your Child Be HappyThis workshop will be an introduction to the strategies and tools to help your child be a joyful, successful life long learner. Participants will share their current challenges, brainstorm in breakout groups, and be guided in creating concrete action plans for their child.

I  will be offering a workshop at the conference August 6-9. It is not free, but has been a valuable conference  when we were homeschooling

Here is a post listing various unschooling conferences you might like to explore.





Cultivating the Future: Inspiring Communities of Learners

Teachers* have an opportunity to cultivate the future by inspiring communities of learners.

Last week when I read the article by Michael Godsey, The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher When kids can get their lessons from the Internet, what’s left for classroom instructors to do?  I couldn’t respond quickly or coherently enough. I wanted to shout, “So much, there’s always been so much more for a teacher to do than be an expert in their field and disseminate information.” The problem is we often do not recognize, own, or promote just what the value of an exceptional teacher truly is. Every teacher* with a room full of students has a chance to positively influence the future.

Cultivating the Future: Inspiring Communities of Learners at www.LisaNalbone.comIt is a big responsibility because your impact can reach far beyond the walls of the classroom.  Your highest value has less to do with content dissemination and more to do with creating a positive learning community with an emotional environment that supports learning.  An exceptional teacher empowers students to care, to see opportunities, to face obstacles, and to dare to engage fully and bring their truest selves to the world.

The transformative value of a great teacher is as an assets based community builder who inspires lifelong learning and action. Your given subject area, for which you have deep knowledge, experience and passion, is your vehicle to engage those individuals in learning, collaborating, and creating.

A great teacher is a loving human being whose top priority is to help the students value themselves, learn how to learn, and to connect.

No matter the subject, a teacher has a duty to help the students see their strengths and tune into their own intrinsic motivation, so that they are ultimately choosing to learn for their own reasons and take actions to meet their goals. We want them to become self-directed learners!

This can’t happen unless the teacher in the room knows how to create a safe learning environment, and can lead learners in sharing both successes and struggles, and collaborating to create new value for themselves and the community.

How do you go about inspiring communities of learners?

The teacher must embody and model everything they are trying to teach and to show that everyone in the community is a learner. The teacher must be willing to share the power rather than wield power. To learn from the students. To learn WITH.

You strategically move far beyond sage on the stage, and guide on the side, to mensch in the trench. You embody attitudes that will spread the love of learning and share your authentic self so the learners can be themselves. You are so much more than a tech or a content super star.

Cultivating the Future: Inspiring Communities of Learners, Yeats quote image at photo copyright JPStephens

The teacher we all want in the room:

Accepts and embraces – not judges – the learners, where they are, who they are, with love.

Demonstrates unconditional love and deep respect for each human in the room. Helps the students love themselves and see their strengths.

Creates community. Establishes a space of honesty, trust and support that does not allow shaming, and gives everyone equal respect.

Lets go of controlling the results and wanting everyone to be the same: on the same page, learn the same material in the same way, have the same goals. Does not try to create little “mini-mes.”

Listens, empathizes, and puts the needs of the learners above the desire to get through the lesson. Responds to the emotions, and real life issues, and adapts as needed.

Gives context for the materials to relate it to learner’s lives and goals.

Helps students learn to learn; encourages them to learn to design, evaluate and share their learning.

Coaches, paying close attention, to help learner see how to build on strengths and discrete ways each learner can adjust, practice, improve, and grow.

Maybe instead of the deconstruction of the teacher, we need the reconstruction of the teacher who relishes their value as one who is inspiring communities of learners and nurturing transformation.

Transformational teaching and learning take place when you create a community of:


Honesty. Trust, Respect






It takes courage to teach in a way that goes beyond content and classroom management and values the heart of learning. When we, as teachers or parents, share our hearts, care for our students’ hearts, and are fully present, then each moment we have together we are planting seeds of confidence, building capacity, and cultivating the future.

*Substitute Parent for teacher, and child for learner, if you are learning at home.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, thank you for reading mine. Lisa