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2012 Tournament of Minds challenge

September 2, 2012

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The backdrop visible within the 3×3 metre square of this assigned performance space is a feat of engineering and design; Josh aligned the cardboard folds with carefully concealed concertina-reveals in order to disguise exit/ entry points and allow for scene transitions from house to rocky outcrop. Impressive.

Costumes were designed and stitched by Chelsea, and I think the student performers did a great job of distinguishing between Oliver Twist, James from James and the Giant Peach, Eleanor Rigby and Juliet Capulet. This year’s Language & Literature challenge required an allegorical re-interpretation of these selected characters’ stories.

10 minutes on stage is not very long, but it probably felt like an eternity.

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Relief was palpable.

In our lead-up to this competition, Year 10s coordinated efforts of their younger team-mates via Edmodo, led decision-making about the topic, roles, scripting, props, rehearsals and staging. ToMs rules state that no direct adult support is allowed, however I did stand in for Juliet when she had to leave early to catch a train; and Chelsea’s dad did become frustrated with the students’ lack of painting finesse as the sun began to set on Friday night, rain was threatening, and we all needed to be somewhere other than school. Acknowledgement of assistance had to be written into the documentation submitted to judges in order to remain compliant with the Spirit of ToMs.

Judging.

Final comments offered as feedback by the judges were very positive: The well-developed script was singled out for commendation, along with costumes and staging. Students were asked what they had learned from the experience, and Josh reflected on the lack of in-fighting in contrast to previous years’ efforts.

And that’s the immense legacy of participating in Tournament of Minds as an annual creative challenge: Our Gifted & Talented learning community benefits from long term, steady commitment to collaboration. The fleeting sense of success while innovating can be its own reward.

There are a dozen different metaphors we use colloquially to describe good ideas: we call them sparks, flashes, lightbulb moments  we have brainstorms and breatkthroughs, eureka moments and epiphanies. Something about the concept pushes our language into rhetorical overdrive, our verbiage straining to reproduce the innovation it describes.

And yet, as florid as they are, none of those metaphors captures what an idea actually is, on the most elemental level.

A good idea is a network.

Johnson, S. (2010). Where Good Ideas Come From; The Natural History of Innovation. Riverhead Books: New York.

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