Innovation In The Classroom
Imagine innovators Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Bill Gates as young children; their young minds intrigued by a complex mathematical equation or absorbed in a compelling book. Imagine what would have become of these brilliant minds if classroom curriculum stifled their creativity and teachers refused to encourage their questions and inquisitiveness.
Now imagine that the next Bill Gates (or Betty Gates) was a student in your classroom…. Would you change your classroom practices? Would you be more likely to encourage inventiveness and inquiry?
President Obama’s recent remarks on nationwide innovation has sparked discussion among academics and brought a renewed awareness to classroom practices. A recent article from eSchoolNews.com titled “How-and why- to teach innovation in our schools”, articulates the impact a more innovative society would have on education. The article states, “Currently, we are chasing testable competency in academic core skills. It is quite a different thing to try to educate future innovators. We don’t test for that.” In order for classrooms to become more innovative-driven, it would be essential that curriculum change. To implement an innovative curriculum, schools would need to emphasize the Five I’s: Imagination, Inquiry, Invention, Implementation, and Initiative.
On the surface, implementing the Five I’s into curriculum seems simple however as you examine what these five traits entail, it becomes clear that these concepts would uproot the foundations of almost every school in our nation.
So why would teaching the Five I’s of innovation challenge our current school systems?
Imagination: Day-dreaming is discouraged in most classrooms. Students who fail to focus entirely on an assignment or lesson plan are reprimanded. Educators often dictate the imaginations and creativity of students with time constraints.
Inquiry: Teachers ask and frame most of the questions in the classroom. This educational approach of guiding classroom discussions discourages students from coming up with their own ideas, inquiries, and questions.
Invention: Students are rarely challenged during their school careers to invent things. Besides the occasional science fair and art class, students are never challenged to invent.
Implementation: Curriculum today doesn’t emphasize the importance of fully implementing ideas. Implementing a concept takes refinement, persistence, problem solving, and imagination. These skills that are required for implementing an idea successfully take time to learn and repetition.
Initiative: Centralized classrooms limit individualistic inquiry and initiative. To encourage initiative in students, teachers would have to facilitate a decentralization of student work and make more resources available for individual projects.
Despite these challenges, we need classrooms that encourage and enable innovation in all students. Imagination, inquiry, invention, implementation, and initiative are not just traits that could possibly impact economically important innovations; they are characteristics that will give each and every student a brighter future.