March 16th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Change comes in many colors...in this case it's blue.

Editor's Note: Phil Stanton is co-founder of Blue Man Group, known world-wide for their theatrical shows and concerts featuring popular music, comedy and multimedia. Be sure to check out CNN The Next List’s profile on Blue School this Sunday at 2pm E.T.

By Phil Stanton, Special to CNN

Why do you think the Blue Man seems to resonate with so many people?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions we get, and the one that, for us as artists, may be the most difficult to answer. An intelligible answer requires putting aside the bald and blue character for a moment, and returning to the impulses that gave birth to that character and essentially led to all of our work.

Of the myriad factors influencing the genesis of Blue Man Group and our journey as artists and performers, one of most seminal was our decision to write from our own perspective as audience members. We had faith that if came up with the kind of work WE would like to see, others might like it too. We then looked within to try to define what basic elements (beyond the need for food, water and shelter) we thought should be in place in order for US to feel we were living fully human lives. There was something important about being mindful of what we all commonly call "life force", and the ability to experience and celebrate the energy and animating forces that surround us. We agreed that a sense of curiosity and the joy of exploration were critical to feeling human and truly alive. We also thought there was something crucial about humor and the ability to laugh. Finally, the desire to feel part of a community and experience connection was essential. While we do not claim to be psychologists or anthropologists, we felt intuitively that the desire for these human "needs" might resonate with others.

These four human aspirations eventually became the pillars (we refer to them as “creative impulses”) that infuse all of our work.

We joke that as long as we lump these motives into a ball of "impulse-goo" and squeeze it tightly in hand, something worthwhile is sure to extrude from between the fingers. There is a lot of truth in this. We feel that the same impulses can give birth to a great variety of work, INCLUDING a school and a bald and blue character. But we feel that if anything resonates about our work, it's that at the core it is a celebration of connection, playfulness, curiosity and life force.

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Filed under: Education • Innovation • The Next List • Thinkers • Video
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Charlotte

    Wow, more white men being highlighted about their school with all white faces as far as I could see. Who are the other 3 founders? I bet they are women...What? not worthy of the spotlight? Not famous enough? Was this a story about education or about 3 guys named Phil,Matt & Chris who are expanding their "BLUE brand". CNN could use their air time letting the viewers see a more meaningful story about non elitist educational reform...there are plenty of educational innovators out there striving to give children across the economic & racial spectrum meaningful learning experiences.

    March 24, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Reply
  2. Charlotte

    Wow, more white men being highlighted about their school with all white faces as far as I could see. Who are the other 3 founders? I bet they are women...What? not worthy of the spotlight? Not famous enough? Was this a story about education or about 3 guys named Phil,Matt & Chris who are expanding their "BLUE brand". CNN could use their air time letting the viewers see a more meaningful story about non elitist educational reform...there are plenty of innovators out there...

    March 24, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Reply
  3. Valerie L

    Fascinated by your piece today about the Blue School. There is a similar movement I wish NEXT would explore and let people know about which is similar in many aspects to the Blue School and which is available in most locations now, but very little marketed and known. I’m speaking of Waldorf education. Children in this innovative system (which is world wide but small) learn love of learning as well as learn to think with an experiential learning mode which Blue School emphasizes too. Waldorf also speaks to the spirit of each child. It also provides the child with the most nurturing environment I’ve ever seen in a school—creating an atmosphere of safety for creative thinking. And there are no tests, no grades (rather in depth reports from teachers). With no tests, during a divorce, when my son had to prove he was learning something to the court, my 7th grader was tested by Stanford 9, and scored way above grade on everything. Most impressive was that mostly the scores were PHS, post high school (and he is no genius). Conceptually my son was off the charts in 7th grade. That is the result of this wonderful method of teaching which uses art and creativity and learning to think in every aspect of their teaching.

    March 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Reply
    • invernesscraig

      Sorry to disagree but Waldorf is not innovative or creative. I am a Waldorf certified teacher and I taught in a Waldorf school. The entire pedagogy is rooted in 1920's Europe and nothing other than Steiner is accepted. Students stand and recite verses. Students copy text off the blackboard. No contemporary educational research is considered in Waldorf, not even Piaget, Dewey, or Reggio Emilia. Students don't do any hands-on science classes until maybe 7th or 8th grade–all science classes are observation of experiments that the teacher performs.

      March 26, 2012 at 12:19 am | Reply
    • Mika

      Lynn – These are so beautiful! I am Morgan's mtoher and Susan's friend and I want to thank you for capturing so much of the spirit of this class! Your work is ethereal and hard, classic and edgy, clean and complicated all at the same time. There's a vintage, nostalgic feeling here, which is perfect for what we are/they were feeling.

      September 24, 2012 at 6:42 am | Reply
  4. RayM

    Fostering creativity is the key to a successful education system. However, there has to be a paradigm shift in our thinking and philosophy. Embracing creativity means many things some of which are incompatible with our current education systems. We have to encourage the students to think outside the box not always strive to please and impress the teacher or our parents by getting the best marks. I agree with Eugene that technology has a great role to play. Here are some artistic work by my students in ICT classes and media club created with technology tools. Digital media allow students to experiment, make mistakes and realize that sometimes a mistake is the greatest thing that can happen if you are open to other ideas.

    http://mirshahi.wikispaces.com/Digital+Programmable+Art

    March 17, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Reply
    • Eriqa

      I just want to say I'm very new to blogging and ceitarnly loved you're blog. More than likely I’m planning to bookmark your blog . You absolutely come with perfect article content. Thank you for revealing your web-site.

      June 12, 2012 at 5:10 am | Reply
      • Albert

        Great point. Often times when people think of bmeocing an entrepreneur they become fixated solely on creating profit that they neglect that being your own boss also presents the opportunity to create an enjoyable work environment for themselves. Also, in terms of being innovative, studies show that being in a supportive and playful environment is important for creativity in groups. Kind of hard to have this type of environment if you don't like your coworkers.

        September 24, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
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        September 26, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  5. eugene cantera

    Academia is slow adopt change. My niche is music (education) and God knows, we are the slowest of them all. Technology can help broaden the spectrum of delivery so that implementing these new ideas about assessment, social learning, and 'diverse responses' is now a reality. It's up to educators to be creative in their curriculum design so that learners who have come to accept (and even expect) digital modes have options both in and out of the classroom.

    March 17, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Reply
    • Mohmedsoheb

      219The poor should not be awlelod to breed. Condoms should be airdropped to those who refuse to work and take care of there own families. You want the government to take care of you, MOVE TO NORTH KOREA. The real America is gone.Damn peopleNo American should have to support any other American who doesn't want to work. For those that want to work and are having a hard time,should get help. But for the majority that sit complain and whine,screw drink and sleep u r on ur own.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Reply
  6. Barbara

    Will this be accessible later? Won't be able to watch at this time. :-(

    March 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Reply

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