Creation Precedes Innovation

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Everything we hear in education now is 'innovation'; it has become a buzz word that is tagged onto everything sometimes just for the sake of sounding relevant. Now, not to say there isn't true innovation going on in the education world, because there absolutely is. However, my point is that just like a song that we hear one too many times on the radio, sometimes we overuse buzzwords to the point that they become so 'played out' that they lose their merit and they lose their value before we even have time to make any strides towards actually achieving it. So instead of just throwing around the word 'innovation' on everything and anything regardless of if it's truly innovative or not, how about we take the time to seriously reflect on how to get to a place of meaningful and organic innovation.

If our goal as educators is to truly cultivate a culture where authentic innovation is occurring both within our staff and student communities, then we need to first give our staff and students consistent opportunities to create. Creation precedes innovation. Some may argue that creation and innovation goes hand in hand, that one does not precede the other; and once both are an established part of the culture, I think so too. However, without the opportunity and mindset to create, innovation simply does not happen, at least not outside of small pockets. If we want innovation to be the norm, then our students need to be creators every single day.

Create(v.): to bring (something) into existence.

A creator looks at the world through the lenses of problems that need to be solved and questions that need to be answered. We want our students to be more than just isolated consumers. Instilling this type of mentality within our students and embedding it into our instruction will begin to create the type of culture that will ultimately lead to innovation. Design thinking, the maker movement, technology, and project based learning can help support this, but like anything else, it all needs to be grounded into instruction. We want our instructional and social culture to build purposeful creators who create from a foundation of knowledge and empathy.

Students must be given opportunity after opportunity to create. Wrapped together with that, students must also be taught to be problem finders, allowing empathy to lead the way. Two of the biggest struggles that I have experienced with letting students be the creative drivers, is first and foremost letting go of control, and secondly, being okay with students being confused. Just like when students are comprehending a new book for the first time, you have to let them naturally move from confusion to clarity on their own. The same principle applies here. As educators, our first reaction when students are sitting there not able to generate questions or not able to see any problems around them is to be like 'here you go!' 'how about this idea?!", and believe me, I am guilty of that myself. However, if we truly want our students to become strong critical thinkers and develop their own ideas, we need to forfeit the control to do so.

Invest the time in your students and give them the opportunity to struggle and to fail; to become creators. Innovation doesn't come easy, don't short change yourself or your students the time to develop their creative identity. They control their future.

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