In Recognition of Genius; Winning a MacArthur Grant

After a lively discussion with a new friend about the loss of real physical books in our schools, as well as the fact that we no longer teach the full elemental skills of writing and math, I was preparing to blog about some of the repercussions we may face in the future. I still want to look at those issues together, but first I wanted to share this recent Yahoo story about several winners of the MacArthur Grants for Creativity. Chris Thile was the winner of one of the $500,000 MacArthur grants for genius. Of Nickle Creek fame, and now with the Punch Brothers, who were amazing when they opened for Paul Simon, Thile won for his amazing musical skills including his mandolin playing. I find it so encouraging to see such a grant system in place to reward the genius of individuals in what we many times consider to be less important contributions in life.

I’ll let the article speak for itself here as it describes the reaction of other recipients…

According to Dominican-American author Junot Diaz, who wrote the Pulitzer-winning novel “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” “It would never have dawned on me to think such a thing was possible for me,” Diaz said, reflecting on his early years in New Jersey “struggling with poverty, struggling with English. … I came from a community that was about as hard-working as you can get and yet no one saw or recognized in any way our contributions or our genius. … I have to wonder, but for circumstances, how many other kids that I came up with are more worthy of this fellowship than me?”

Maurice Lim Miller saw the MacArthur nod as validation of his project, called the Family Independence Initiative. The project, started in 2001 in Oakland, California, rewards self-sufficiency among residents of low-income neighborhoods by bringing groups of friends together and asking them to track the steps they take toward saving money, finding jobs, helping their children do well in school and other goals. Families increase their incomes and savings, start businesses and buy homes, he said.
Neither liberal nor conservative, the initiative transcends the current political debate about personal responsibility, Lim Miller said.

Winning a MacArthur grant felt like an endorsement not only of his own work, he said, but also of the type of long-form journalism another recipient practices, which is in jeopardy as newspapers respond to the digital age. Declining circulation has forced newspaper publishers to shrink the size of their print publications and their staffs. Finkel admires the experimentation under way in journalism, but added: “I’m old-fashioned. The thing I’m most moved by is a well-told, deeply reported long story.”….

As we experiment to find ways to balance our educational system’s challenged budget and our teacher’s stretched energies, I’m glad to hear of the ways that our culture still rewards the individuals that enrich life outside of the arenas we value as the core curricula in our education. I hope to see more of this recognition as time goes on and we begin to really grasp how critical the whole of creativity is in our lives.

Thanks MacArthur Foundation, for your support of the qualities that make such a difference in our lives : }

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One Response

10.02.12

Great post! I agree, the MacArthur Foundation does great things!

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