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The Creativity of a Prisoner

I was listening to a cool audiobook called Rework by Jason Fried this week. He speaks to how true creativity is doing something useful with whatever you happen to have.


Fried points out that therefore the most creative people are often those who have very little … like prisoners.


It might be a violent example, but it’s pretty innovative to look at a toothbrush and think “You know what?  If I’m determined and patient, I could whittle this thing into a shiv as my own little project and totally stab that bastard who’s been giving me a hard time.”

* Quick disclaimer – don’t stab anybody at school!

But you can take the little you have, such as the remaining few days of the school year, and do something useful and creative with them.


  • Who’s the kid whose life trajectory you could alter with a simple lunch date?
  • Who are the group of students who you could just play basketball with for a whole recess … and then also lunchtime, just to send them off to the break smiling about school?
  • Who’s the struggling colleague who you could take out for a coffee after school and just listen (without judgement or a need to fix them) to the source of their struggles?
  • Who’s the parent who’d adore just one positive phone call from you to acknowledge they’ve kept fighting for their kid in 2023, even when their kid has been hard to advocate for?
  • Who’s the mentor that you need to unexpectedly thank?
  • And what’s the funky or radical change in practice that you’d like to implement for a week?Just do it as a creative experiment without any attachment to it needing to work.  Just for a while.


There’s a tendency to allow our habits of work to meander through until the final second of the year, to count down.


But you’ve still got time to turn your toothbrush of time into a shiv and perhaps even a few other less aggressive mini-projects too.


Now’s the time to get creative.


Keep fighting that good fight,


PS. Do you happen to be free next Tuesday 5th December at 2pm? If so, I’d love you to join me for a yarn about exactly what to do about the student behaviour dilemma we’re facing. It’s the last in our 3-part webinar series on “Leading Whole School Behaviour Improvement”. It’s free, it’s our last chance to connect before the year ends, and I’d love to see you there. Sign up here.

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