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Beautiful Oops

There's a kids book by Barney Saltzberg called Beautiful Oops and it's a game changer for art teachers or parents who want to instill the idea of flexible thinking through art.

Just yesterday, I had 3 students of different ages come share with me about how they "beautiful oops-ed" part of their artwork and ended up creating something even cooler than they had initially planned. The funny thing is: we didn't even read the book with this group of students. We talked about the idea as one practice of building a growth mindset, did a project and the idea stuck.

Underneath each of their explanations was sheer awe at how a simple shift in perspective expanded the creative possibilities available to them-- and their confidence as a result.

With a flexible mind, a mistake becomes a portal to something unexpected, delightful and new.

The awe I experience in these moments moves beyond each of their seemingly small creative victories to a knowing that something much larger is happening: these simple wins are building a muscle that will serve them far beyond the classroom and the art they make in childhood.

When building the Elements of heART program, there was an intuitive call to infuse the artist tools with an emphasis on mindset. Before I ever knew Beautiful Oops existed as a book, it existed as an idea in my teaching practice that informed a core pillar of the program: "All artists need a tool kit. Anyone can develop one and you already have your most important tool: your mind."

Establishing this idea as the foundation of the program makes developing a growth mindset less of a daunting or arduous task and more of a fun, easy coaxing out of an existing creative ability.

All humans contain a continuum of growth and fixed thinking within them. The work of developing a growth mindset is about learning to stay agile and flexible in how we approach situations. Like any skill, this gets easier with practice. Enter: Beautiful Oops.

One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to practice cultivating a growth mindset is with a conscious engagement in a creative practice. Here, we find a deeper relationship to ourselves. We learn to trust our decision making and ability to adapt.

Through the Elements of heART early learners not only develop strong visual literacy skills, they also develop the ability to observe their own thinking which can empower them to make new choices that create new possibilities... for themselves and for our collective future.

My question for you is: where in your life can you apply Beautiful Oops thinking? How can you embrace mistakes or even hardship as an opportunity to create something unexpected and even more beautiful?

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