The Art of Possibility

Benjamin Zander is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and on the faculty of the New England Conservatory. “Zander is a prophet of human potential…Watch as he helps unlock the boundless potential of a 15 year old cellist and teaches the entire…audience what it means to live in a world of possibility” (Source: Pop! Tech). Zander’s presentation is high-octane and will challenge your thinking about teaching and learning.



Here are just a few of the things that I really like about the presentation.

  • It’s low-tech (or no-tech) yet his message is clear and powerful.
  • I appreciate the downward spiral analogy and his point that negative comments are not statements of circumstances but rather a reflection of one’s attitude.
  • I’m a believer in goal setting and like the notion of learning contracts (as a means of students taking responsibility for their learning, setting their own goals and motivating students). I’ve approached this with a variety of strategies in my classes throughout the years, but I’ve never used the exact strategy that Zander shares. I’ve made a mental note of his idea, though, because I, as a learner, would really, really like his approach.
  • “Michelangelo…said in each piece of marble there is a beautiful statue. All you need is a hammer and a chisel just to get rid of the stone that is in the way of that beautiful statue. That is a theory of education! It’s not the one we use.”
  • I like his suggestion about how we should react to mistakes. What a change in attitude that would foster.
  • I cracked-up about the whole one-buttock-playing aside. You’ll have to watch it to find out what I’m talking about.
  • Kudos to his young participant, Nikolai, for his talent and bravery!
  • “Time doesn’t matter in possibility.” This rings true with me in so many ways.
  • A leader is one that can distinguish the downward spiral and has the capacity to refocus the nay-sayers on the possibilities and the vision.

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Clif Mims

Clif Mims is a Christian, husband, father, teacher, cancer warrior, and fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Memphis Grizzlies.

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