Sarah’s Diary Episode Twenty-Five

Jenny was anticipating how her class would view the innovative potential of Matthew. He was only five when Sarah’s diary was written. What could you tell about the innovative potential of someone so young? In order to give them a better insight into Matthew, she decided to supplement Sarah’s diary with some information from Hiram’s memoir.

“When I read Hiram’s memoir, I really enjoyed the illustrations. They gave me a much greater appreciation of the family and the homestead. What I didn’t realize until I finished the memoir and read the acknowledgements was that the illustrations were provided by Matthew. He was a very gifted artist.”

“Before I read Sarah’s diary entry on Matthew, let me share a couple more things to help you appreciate the diary entry. For Christmas, Hiram and Mable gave each child a pad of paper and a couple of pencils. This was to encourage their creative thinking. For Sarah, the paper became her diary. For Jacob, it was just a collection of funny stories he wrote. Ben used the paper to record his planting experiments. Every child used that pad of paper and as you will see it shaped their future. I think we’ve lost that with electronics. There’s magic that occurs when you put down your handwritten thoughts on paper.”

“One other thing, Harriett was successful in opening the doors to women teachers. Since Matthew would be entering school for the first time, his teacher came to the house to make him feel comfortable with what was to come. Now here’s Sarah’s diary entry.”

“Miss Phoebe came to see Matthew today. When she asked Matthew what he liked to do, he told her he liked to draw pictures. Miss Phoebe asked if she could see some of them, and Matthew ran to get his tablet of paper.”

“I was shocked there was the dogwood tree that Elizabeth and I had showed him. Matthew had drawn it as the seasons changed. We never knew. Then he started telling Miss Phoebe a story about the tree. I don’t think any of  us realized what an imagination Matthew had.”

Jenny finished the diary section and then asked the class to evaluate Matthew’s innovation potential. When they were done, she placed their scores on the board.

Question 1:  Do you seek out new information regularly just for fun and then share this information with others? Score 4.0

Question 2:  Do you seek out new information when you are anxious about not knowing something you feel you should/must know? Score 3.1

Question 3:  Do you try to understand how other people are thinking by observing them or asking them questions? Score 4.5

Question 4:  Are you willing to take risks to gain new experiences? Score 4.0

Question 5:  Are you comfortable with moving out of your comfort zone in order to gain new insights or knowledge? Score 3.8

“I know this is so unfair. It’s hard to judge the questions of someone so young. Certainly Matthew is very creative and talented artistically. Any of us would love to have his talent. Is innovative potential there? It’s hard to say.”

“Do any of you know the name Shigeru Miyamoto?” No one in the class knew of that name. “Have you ever played video games such as Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda?” Almost every hand went up. Miyamoto developed those games. “His early childhood was very similar to Matthews.”

“The inspiring thing about innovators is that no one can ever predict in advance what spurs innovation. Imagine what Matthew would have done without that pad of paper and pencil. Innovation isn’t spurred by expensive labs, big research grants, or highly paid academics. A five-year-old child with a pad of paper and a pencil can become just as much of an innovator as those who are lavished with resources.”

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“My perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper. That’s heaven. That’s gold, and anything else is just a waste of time.” – Cormac McCarthy (Pulitzer Prize winning author)

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