Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Creative Wisdom from Pixar's John Lasseter 6 of 7

6. Creative output always reflects the person on top.

“Poor managers harm the creative process.”

John Lasseter knows from personal experience. After landing his dream job as animator at the Disney Animation Studios in the late seventies, his outspoken individuality and creative extravaganzas quickly made him enemies among mediocre middle managers at Disney. Within a few years, Mr Lasseter became a victim of internal politics and got fired. Committed to go his own way, Mr Lasseter became one of the founders of Pixar in 1986. Twenty years later, following Pixar’s acquisition by The Walt Disney Company, Mr Lasseter returned in triumph as chief creative officer of both animation studios.

“Laughter, being crazy, freaking out, behaving in ridiculous manner are hard work. A manager who spreads his bad mood and who forbids his employees to have fun impairs their creativity, and thus harms the enterprise. I would fire him. Animated movies are not least a bang-hard business. I cannot risk so much money, only because a manager indulging in his bad mood harms my business."

Again - because I teach I automatically think of how this applies to the classroom. I've heard of some frightful behavior by teachers and try my very best to avoid those behaviors. I was in one classroom and someone's phone went off and the whole class whipped their heads around looking at me with those "deer in the headlights" eyes. Apparently their last instructor had charged each student whose phone went off $10.00 for taking her time.

Ahem. While in most settings a cell phone going off can be very rude, most of the classes I teach are for fun. They aren't graduate level courses in hallowed halls. Sometimes there are more important things going on in life than what we are doing in class. 

So this is what we do when phones ring in my class.
We do a dance.
 It's called the cell phone fling.

I was in my son's kindergarden class once and the kids were heads down working hard on math, or something. Suddenly the teacher's phone goes off with some wild dance tune. I was a little shocked. Then a huge grin lit up my face as all the kids got up and did the cell phone fling for about three rings then sat right back down and got back to work. It was the teacher's method of letting the kids get a few wiggles out at random times during the day. We all need to get wiggles out once in a while. 

So - what is the worst "diva behavior" you've experienced in class?
What has been the best kind of surprise you've had with a teacher in class?