The role of innovation and creation

David Hughes, founder of Decision Labs and professor at UNC Chapel Hill, argues that innovation is an essential skill for our global economy. In talking about creativity in schools he says, much of the blame for a lack of creativity, and therefore innovation, can be traced to our traditional educational systems.

What we do now to educate students will not be, cannot be, what we do five years from now.

As much as the innovation of the wheel changed how folks got around, the innovations that are taking place with technology are changing how we learn.  This is no secret.  The question is how will we as educators innovate all pop tab floweraspects of education to truly address the learning needs of students we teach.  This means we must also be proponents and users of 21st Century Skills that include collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving and personal reflection and not just a mantra that is rattled off to impress.

Suppressing creativity in light of our own desire for control over learning and classroom atmosphere is what stifles a child’s ability think in non-linear ways because they know that we prefer control and power over legitimate demonstration of learning.  We have a knack for telling kids how we want it done, how it is to look, how big, how small, how many words, what colors to use and not use, and on and on and on.  With all of the restrictions we place on a child’s creative juices, it is no wonder innovation solutions are not created to complex problems – we have caused in box thinking while cutting out the out of box creativity.

Doing school the same way our predecessors did is simple neglect.  It is neglect to not address that we no longer live in an agrarian society.  It is neglect to tell students to keep their devices in the bags and lockers not allowing them to use it as a learning tool.  It is neglect that teachers need to be connected to each other in a variety of ways but many choose not to.  In the very near future, and I believe this is in the next five years, students will come to expect informal collaboration where the technology is secondary to the learning experience with others to achieve goals.

Creative thinkers and doers create solutions we have not now but do need to transform education from its traditional roots to a completely different platform.

photo credit: Urban Woodswalker via photopin cc


Worth the price of the front cover?

If the schools in the U.S. are really as bad as reported, is going worth the price of admission?  

How much does it really cost public schools to educate children?  I admit that I don’t know the answer to that but the price tag adds up quickly.  One category of expenses that I happen to be looking at right now though for no other reason than out of curiosity.

Textbooks cost a lot and the big publishing companies make a fortune.  Making money isn’t bad but does it really have to cost so much?  It probably does by the time you add up all of the man hours and wages to pay.

I am a proponent of not using a textbook because all of the information you need to learn is all online and teaching kids how to search effectively and efficiently is free because Internet and technology are ubiquitous. Once the kids get the hang of finding information, compiling research and creating learning gets much easier.  In addition, there isn’t a worry that the information becomes dates or about another textbook adoption.

What if teachers could pool together resources to create their own textbooks?  It is already happening, but rather than one teacher try what if we pull a bunch of us together and put together an amazing digital book with relevant links and videos published through iBooks or other forum?  Use the concept of crowdsourcing to achieve that and I think the book that is created is usable, scalable, and flexible.

Making such books keeps the costs down in a district and the funds can be used for other things.

Make sense to you?

It’s a matter of principal

Where there is a lack of vision, there is a lack of progress.  The vision for a school begins with the leader – the principal.  A lack of vision on the part of the building administrator leaves the staff wondering which way they are going, or if there is any direction at all.  The direction, though it may seem aimless, is that, aimless.  The only guiding factor may be a state standardized test – a truth for Ohio right now – that all teachers want to have their students pass leading to a vacuum of real education practice.  The vacuum is the single focus to have students pass the test and while we talk ourselves into deep educational practices continue, they simply cannot.  The classroom and teacher need to be breathe and the oxygen comes from the teacher’s creativity to create amazing learning experiences.  The principal of the matter is that it is up to the educational leader to protect the creativity.  No one said that is easy.

As the education leader in the building, the principal is responsible for various items though the highest priority is education.  Education is not just about teaching, but the overall impact the school has on students, parents and community establishing itself as point of pride.  When the school has a relevant vision and the principal carries it out, the school progresses to educate the students with engaging methods.

It is the principal who should be the visioneer.

What if this is not the case?   Who drives the vision and who takes the ownership if the education leader does not?