Interview with Reckoning Director Shawna Snow an Advocate of Creativity for Character

April 22, 2014 Lana Jelenjev

When I started Smart Tinker I didn't realize that I will get connected with people who are changing the world one with their passions. I am fortunate to get connected with a creative and passionate woman who is working on bringing character development in the limelight.  Shawna Snow worked with enthusiasm as a public school science teacher in California. She earned her Master’s Degree in Global Urban Leadership and put classroom learning into action over the past two decades in urban and cross-cultural environments in the US, Europe and Africa. Shawna founded a non-profit in Amsterdam, Reckoning  in 2008. The Amsterdam-based development specialist is a mother of five, an author and loves travel and literature. Shawna and her partners at Reckoning are now offering workshops at



a) Can you give a brief description of what you do and how creativity plays a part in it?

Creativity is the basis for teaching character and leadership skills - Learning how to engage in learning through exploration, imagination and art allows one to bring out the very essence of a person - what they think, feel, and want. In this process, lasting learning can take place. 


b) You use art making(play and team-building as well) as part of your training methods, how do you deal with kids who are hesitant at first because they feel they are "not creative"? Can you give example of an activity and how the students initially react to it? 

Most students think they are not creative. What we do is ask open questions, validate what they think and give them space to experiment and realize there are no "wrong" answers or ways of creating.Once the students realize this, they are more free to engage in the process. 
I have lots of examples, but one that comes to mind is a Morraccan boy who was highly resistant to this process. He was a hand full - rebellious, disrespectful, etc. We gave him space to voice his thoughts and his criticism of the process and coached him to engage those feelings into the project. Once he felt like his thoughts were respected ( we didn't shut him down, but listened ) he made one of the most fascinating posters. You can see our Art Director talk about it on our youtube video
c) What three changes do you quickly notice with students working with the Reckoning program once they get involved with the activities? (changes that you can say is brought about by them being involved in the creative process) 
1. They seem to "come alive" - We see Curiousity, Zest and they start making the assignments their own. 
2. They settle down - they aren't as rebellious, they push back less, it's like they have found an outlet for self expression that is valued. 
3. Social intelligence - they learn how to listen to one another and ask about the other's art projects - a mutual respect and understanding for one another. 


d) Lastly, in your logo is the line "where art leads", how do you see this with children? with families?

We have now started parenting classes and the mom's are doing similar art projects as their children ( at different times) what we are seeing is that Art is leading them to communicate more intimately, art is leading them in how to express themselves in more constructive ways, art is leading them in how to be better people. 

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