Why is “innovation” so crucial in education?
What impact do you see it having on our students and ourselves long-term?
“Belief that abilities, intelligence, and talents are developed so that they lead to the creation of new and better ideas.”
Is it crucial for our students to…
- think creatively,
- challenge the status quo,
- see multiple perspectives to make decisions,
- possess negotiation skills
- solve complex problems
- take initiative and lead and
- tap into their curiosity to launch something amazing?
YES! A million times…YES!
These skills are vital for innovation and will be required of our students when they look for employment after their schooling adventure. As an educator, I consider it malpractice to close our mind and choose NOT to embrace “change as an opportunity to do something amazing” as part of our students’ learning experience.
Malpractice, in most professions, causes the employee to face serious consequences such as loss of licensure, loss of their job, prison time, etc. While losing your license or going to prison is completely undesirable, how disheartening is neglecting a child’s educational needs for thirteen years? How can we justify sending them into a battle to compete for the job of their dreams without the proper weapons/skills? A recent study states the number of children under the age of 18 in the United States is at a record high of 74.2 million. Now, consider students from all over the world. It’s safe to say, denying students the opportunity to develop 21st-century skills and promote innovation in education is a crime!
In-Class Innovation In Action
This week I watched an incredible new fourth-grade teacher, Mandy Sikes, take a risk, move out of her comfort zone and make a global connection with her students for a compelling, innovative experience. She reached out to her new-found Twitter PLN and set up a #MysterySkype for her class. The goal was to create an authentic activity to help them brush up on their geographic skills.
The result from the 20-minute Mystery Skype:
- The students led and owned the learning. They each had different jobs yet were required to collaborate with others.
- They were challenged to see multiple perspectives during the process of elimination.
- They had to negotiate their rationale for where the “mystery” location might be using their prior geographic-skills-knowledge.
- Thinking creatively was a necessity to decide which question would be best to eliminate the largest area of the US and help pinpoint the location.
- One student blogged-live to the parents during the entire process. Her little fingers were flying.
- The student-led reflection by the “supervisor” at the end allowed classmates to share their successes and ideas for improvement next time. The specific feedback to his peers was incredible and well thought out.
- OH…forgot to mention, the students certainly brushed up their geography skills–WITHOUT any rote-kill-and-drill activities!
Ripple-Effect of Empowering Others
It is humbling to be considered a small part of this process. However, it’s always important for me to give credit where it’s due. George Couros and Dave Burgess encouraged me to launch out on this journey and continue to guide me along the way. They inspire me to connect educators via Twitter and share my experiences. The ripple effect of their influence on my life is absolutely mind-blowing!
A month ago, I had the opportunity to share the value of collaborating and developing a PLN via Twitter with the teachers of Lawrence Public Schools. Mandy Sikes, the teacher of the class mentioned above, joined my session. She was super excited about jumping on Twitter and growing her PLN. Now, to watch her challenge the status quo and create a global geography-lesson experience that had 100% student engagement (in less than a month) is unbelievable! I would guess these students will NEVER forget where Indiana is. Also, I heard them express how much they can’t wait for their next #MysterySkype in a couple of weeks.
Because of Mandy’s willingness to take this risk, many of her fellow colleagues have now started the process of setting up a Mystery Skype experience for their students. THIS is a perfect example of how innovation drives learning for our students and adults, too.
How might innovation in education impact our students and ourselves long-term?
The answer is easy. Passion-led, applicable risk-taking drives future learning experiences that lead to creative new curious combinations which births innovation.