ENGENDER: bring or come into being

engender 2

The act of creating is a sensation which is incomparable.   Whether it be parents who celebrate the birth of a child, an author who publishes a new novel, a stage company who open a new show, a carpenter who finishes a deck, or a child who brings a school-made valentine home to Mom, creation is a great experience.

The act of creating something is what brings about the term engender, which means to bring into being.   You come across this word in written pieces where someone is said to engender good feelings by the act of sharing, or…on the other side… a dictator can be said to engender fear and chaos by brutality.

There is a sense of responsibility in the word engender.  If a president  engenders an era of well-being or peace, it is a compliment which means that he is responsible for having created an atmosphere in which good things can happen.  Obviously, the opposite is true as well.

I have often heard the word used in describing a classroom teacher, who is said to engender learning in her classroom, or an art instructor who engenders creativity in his students.  There is something special about such a person.  It is not that the teacher actually teaches learning or teaches art, as much as the instructor promotes education or  creative expression.   That is done by rewarding good work, acknowledging a unique expression, or even promoting display of the student’s product.  A teacher can teach techniques, demonstrate examples, or reveal methodologies.   But to say  a teacher engenders learning or creativity  is to identify a personality, a presence, or a way of existing.  Students pick up on that and look within themselves for creativity.

When I was teaching elementary school a girl in my classroom had a spark of creativity that demonstrated itself over and over again.  I remember when the art specialist  was working with the class on self portraits, using a mirror and tempera paints.  Gina painted a very, very fine self-portrait which the teacher was watching emerge over a couple of classes.   Then, in a final day of work on the project, Gina took a paint brush and painted her complexion purple.   Some of the kids in the classroom began to laugh and ridicule the painting, but the art teacher was ecstatic.   Gina had captured a feeling in her self-portrait that only she could explain.   She had gone beyond the norm.   The teacher’s excitement at Gina’s depiction of herself was the kind of thing that engendered creativity among students like Gina who could feel the permission, the encouragement, and the reward of thinking “outside the box.”    It was a memorable moment.

Creative moments are engendered when people think creatively.   It is as true for issues, like freedom, justice, and tolerance as it is for paintings, music, and sculpture.  It takes special people to engender the kind of moments that are tradition-shattering and revolutionary.


Photo Credit:  Liberatus




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