10 Rules for Students and Teachers (and Life)

“Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.”

This beautiful and quite moving list titled Some Rules for Students and Teachers is often attributed to John Cage, who passed away twenty years ago this week.

The list was actually created by artist and educator Sister Corita Kent as part of a project for a class she taught in 1967-1968 and posted as the official art department rules at the college of LA’s Immaculate Heart Convent.

The list was popularized by Cage, whom the tenth rule cites directly, and often attributed to him.

Have a thoughtful weekend as you mull these over, readers.

For more of Cage’s musings on life and art, see the excellent biography Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists 


Where Do Good Ideas Come From? The Twilight Zone!

“Ideas are born from what is smelled, heard, seen, experienced, felt, emotionalized.”

In this short clip from the vintage TV special Writing for TelevisionRod Serling, creator of the cult-classic The Twilight Zone, articulates the nature of creativity in just 64 seconds:

{clip via {Brain Pickings}

“Ideas come from the Earth. They come from every human experience that you’ve either witnessed or have heard about, translated into your brain in your own sense of dialogue, in your own language form. Ideas are born from what is smelled, heard, seen, experienced, felt, emotionalized. Ideas are probably in the air, like little tiny items of ozone.”

When you feel like you can’t create, when there’s a death grip deep inside your chest that is keeping you inert (I dunno, that’s what it feels like to me…) remember these words of wisdom from the Terral Manifesto:

“You may not be a Picasso or Mozart but you don’t have to be. Just create to create. Create to remind yourself you’re still alive. Make stuff to inspire others to make something too. Create to learn a bit more about yourself.”

You will never be sorry that you got up and created something, no matter how small. I promise. 

The Burning House: What Would You Take?

If your house was on fire, what would you grab?

This is precisely the question that Foster Huntington asked himself, first photographing the belongings that he would take, and then asking a few friends to do the same. His experiment soon turned into a blog called The Burning House, and later became a book after he traveled around the country collecting submissions from as many diverse sources as possible.

“Today, developed countries are consuming more than ever before. This culture of consumption is often fueled by people’s desire to define themselves by the

possessions they amass. The Burning House: What Would You Take? takes a different approach to personal

definition. By removing easily replaceable objects and instead focusing on things unique to them, people are able to capture their personalities in a photograph.”

From the introduction to the book

Name: Miguel

Age: 36

Location: Porto

Occupation: Bike shop owner


The picture you gave me and the leather box we found together.

Mom and dads old camera and mom and dads old leather bag.

The shoes I can’t live without.

Your smell #1 and your smell #2.

The notebook where I draw while you laugh.

My iPod to listen to beautiful tunes while thinking in our next home.

Name: Brody

Age: 6

Location: New Hampshire

Occupation: A kid



Garfeild cup

Lego helicopter

Bumblebee Transformer


yellow belt




(not pictured) Lego Camera used to take photo

Name: Kate Molins

Age: 26

Location: London, UK

Occupation: Clapper / Loader


Buster Kitten – 2 yr old cat

My mum’s ashes

Photo album / scrap book


Grandmother’s watch

Dad’s watch

My watch – 16th birthday present from my mum



8mm Camera – 24th birthday present from all my friends

Dad’s “I Love Tits” Mug – in small print, “from the British Ornithological Society”

Limited edition GONZO, Hunter S. Thompson photo book – 21st birthday present from my mum

Lemmy, Buster Kitten’s brother

My uncle’s old Leica CL

Diary & notebook of VALUABLE ideas & info from the past year

Portable hard drive with millions of photos and other important things

Name: Joshua Lee Bacon

Age: 20

Location: Boone, Iowa

Occupation: Student


Favorite pants.

Favorite underwear.


Box full of all my prints and negatives.

Buffalo box full of treasures and special snapshots.


Chinese cigars.

Some cash.

Photo of my grandparents.

Photo of a friend.

Field notes and pens.

Vivitar and telephoto lens.

I would want to take more records, but the first one I would grab would be this Envy Corps 7 inch.

Some old letters.


Name: Brenda Bell

Age: 60

Location: Pinetop, Arizona White Mountains (wild fire country May/June)

Occupation: Homemaker


My dog, Baby Val and treats for him

My husband Larry and treats for him

Peanut butter and crackers, peanuts, candy and gum

Bumblebee Transformer

A spork (spoon/fork)

Hand warmers

Wool hat

Lots of money (small dimensions) and change

Emergency first aid kit and zip lock bags


Name: Kristi Dahlstrom

Age: 27

Location: Germany

Occupation: Literature Teacher


Great Aunt’s Violin (& Bow)

US Passport

Photograph of Siblings

2 Letters


New American Standard Bible

Rilke’s Book of Hours

T.S. Elliot Collected Poems

MacBook Pro

Black Flipflops

Name: Luca

Age: 42

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Occupation: Pricing analyst


My collected writings

My Field Notes still to be used

My current notebook

the Midori Travellers Notebook On Writing by Stephen King

From Hell by Alan Moore

Important photographs

The stove moka I had for the past 10 years (because nothing looks as bad after a proper coffee)

The belt my dad had when he was in the army

The beret I had when I was in the army

Fountain pen and pencil, with my favourite brown ink

My grandad’s petrol lighter

Opinel knife Bookbinding tools

Reading glasses and sunglasses

iPhone 4S (used to take the picture)

Name: Alejandro Sosa

Age: 36

Location: Venezuela

Occupation: Technology consultant


Everything is recoverable, except my daughter


(not pictured) Lego Camera used to take photo