Discovering the Creative Potential in Public Schools


At Creative Lives we consider public schools to be one of our greatest resources for transforming national well-being. Healthy school communities will make vital contributions to our collective future, yielding new music, art, science, and more collaborative leadership. Critical transformations in education will bring about a healthier environment, culture and a more peaceful global community.

Now is the time to make education a top priority in the United States. American children are in trouble. Their ability to think creatively is on the decline, their inner well-being is not adequately attended to, and their overall health is poor. Negative cultural influences, copious screen time, poverty, toxins in our environment, poor nutrition—all these are taking their toll. Yet within each developing child can be found qualities of compassion, spontaneity, wisdom, resilience, a joy of learning and sharing, the determination to conquer obstacles, and an intrinsic desire to contribute to life. How can we encourage these attributes to fully emerge? How can we strengthen young people’s capacity to meet the challenges they will face as adults?

The Search for Buried Treasure Project seeks to unleash the extraordinary creative potential of public schools. We offer a unified approach to transformation that can engender countless attuned solutions to what is ailing. We focus on direct outreach to educators and families who can in turn reach hundreds or even thousands of children.

The project programs emphasize experiential, individualized learning that integrates the creative and contemplative arts with academics—balancing students’ intuitive and intellectual capacities and promoting authentic connections to community and the natural world. Key to supporting the needs of students, teachers, and school communities is our unique road-map for educational innovation.

The Framework for Wise Education

Philosopher Ellen Tadd has observed human behavior with an extraordinary ability to perceive energy for years. We are all aware of energy on a daily basis—the feeling in the belly when we’re nervous, the fullness in the heart when we are expressing or receiving love. The more we pay attention the more there is to perceive, and the more attuned becomes our ability to perceive. Ellen’s ability is so fine-tuned that she is able to perceive specific centers of energy in each of us and observe how they relate to our development and the actualization of our potential.

The Framework for Wise Education is Ellen’s adaptation for educational settings of her original book “The Wisdom of the Chakras: Tools for Navigating the Complexities of Life.”

Each of the seven chakras she describes in her work has a role to play in our fulfillment, including the ability to attain deep focus, sustain positivity, to give and receive love, to develop self-discipline, and to fully contribute our gifts to life.

New Frontiers in Classroom Teaching

The Framework is being implemented as part of the Search for Buried Treasure Project with remarkable results. Staff and students grow together in meditative ability and focus, creative discovery, self-awareness, appreciation of unique learning styles, and in the joy of acquiring new skills and knowledge. Our curriculum helps students perceive new connections as they experience, for example: links between growth patterns in nature and form in art; the relationship between diet, emotional balance, and behavior; the relationship between physical health and the health of the natural world; and links between new science and the ability to perceive energy.

The Framework for Wise Education is the vehicle that will help our schools move into new frontiers of understanding using abilities that we already possess but have not fully activated. An example is the ability to focus. We can all focus in some area of our lives, but can we focus consistently through the day, at work, at home, in our many relationships and in attending to the details of our lives? Do we understand the mechanics of focus?

Educators can integrate these specific understandings of human development within their own areas of expertise, innovating new applications of Framework concepts within a shared core of understanding. As organizing principles, the chakras can provide a structure for individualizing education in group contexts, and for evolving our educational systems, evaluative methods, and desired outcomes for students.

Our Director

Project Director Maureen Burford, an innovator in creative education and accomplished performing artist, counselor, and director, has studied meditation and philosophy with Ellen Tadd since 1998.

“Because Ellen’s work has been so profound in my own life and work, and in the lives of thousands of her students and clients, it is my desire to share it in the field of education—to serve our teachers and youth who so urgently need and deserve our support,” she said.

We live in a time when many have convictions of what is right and true but lack the openness to look more deeply or perceive with new clarity. To heal the rifts, misunderstandings, and misperceptions that exist between us, to collaborate in improving our world, we must be willing to ask “How do I know? How am I deciding?” In asking these questions authentically, we can move forward with a willingness to explore new tools for understanding, and through experiencing them, determine their value for ourselves.

The Search for Buried Treasure Project includes:

  • Teacher Training Workshops and on-line programs
  • A Pilot afterschool enrichment programs
  • The development of a consortium of educators implementing the Framework tools and concepts
  • The development of new curricula
  • The creation of a documentary film and book illustrating, among many things, the power of integrating intellectual and intuitive intelligence in the schools
  • A formal study on the benefits of drug-free approaches (including meditation, diet and needed family support) for children struggling with focus issues

The Search for Buried Treasure Project is a critical step in The Creative Lives vision to found a teacher training institute and K-12 Lab School.