What Can Educators Learn From Successful Innovators?

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Synopsis

Imagine if inventors, entrepreneurs, social innovators, artists, scientists, architects, etc. were asked to be educators for a year and craft the perfect school designed to infuse creative thinking in students?

• Would there be desks, white (black boards), bells, lunch periods?
• Would the learning happen in schools, in the field, after hours?
• Would they learn theory or just solve problems for “real” clients?
• What would their criteria be for hiring the best possible educators?
• What would the graduation requirements look like?

Could you imagine what the classroom experience would be like?

If you compare the classroom with highly innovative organizations, you’ll see big differences. Schools try to educate students to get ready to become the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.  But what aspects of today’s system gets in the way of opening up minds and allowing their imaginations to build a world they want to inhabit.

Although this is an intriguing notion and although some of today’s innovators will take a hiatus from their life’s work to inspire the next generation of innovators, what can we do within the present system to help students prepare for the ever changing world they will lead in the future?

Perhaps we can walk the talk and apply creative thinking to our education system. Let’s take one of the most effective creative thinking techniques: forced connections. The basic principle is connecting your problem or challenge with something completely unrelated: this could be an object, image, video, practically anything. You’ll look for ways how they might have something in common, forcing a relationship and characteristics. The most innovative people see connections where none exists, because they have the ability to connect seemingly unrelated things. Remember Steve Jobs with his “connecting the dots” speech?

We know we want to educate our kids to become creative and innovative in whatever they’ll end up becoming: whether they’ll be a car repairman (some say a job that requires the most creative problem solving skills in the world) or a tech entrepreneur. Complex problems will need to be solved.

Why don’t we apply the principle of forced connections to the education world? Let’s try and reverse engineer this by asking the question of what educators can learn from successful innovators. What childhood experiences (in school and outside of school) shaped who they are as leaders today? Why is it that some of the most successful people drop out of school?

Let’s ask innovators how they would change the education system if there is a magic wand we could give them. What will the classroom look like? What is the role of the educator? But let’s not forget the head of the school or even the janitor! Ask the most innovative person you know what they would do.

To answer these questions the Creative Education Foundation is hosting Innovators to Educators, a unique educational event November 2-3 in Boston, MA. On Day 1 educators will meet with successful innovators who will share how their early childhood experiences molded who they are as innovators and leaders today. Then on day 2, educators will participate in an intensive and practical teacher-training program developed by the Creative Education Foundation to help educators develop and integrate creative competencies in their curricula. 

More info at http://i2e.creativeeducationfoundation.org

Article by Dr. Stephen Brand & Pim Vossen

Tags: creative education, creative education foundation, forced connections, innovation education, innovators to educators

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