Before I speak of how to encourage my students to innovate, I must first innovate myself. I cannot teach others to be creative, to look for new solutions, if I haven’t done it myself.
Innovation is defined as “the action or process of innovating”, with synonyms including change, alteration, revolution, and transformation. The opposite of innovation is simply accepting and using the old ways of doing things or thinking. Innovation then is using creativity to think of new ideas and solutions to the myriad problems that are facing our world. To innovate we use what we know about the world, define what the problem or change needed is, and think of a variety of solutions. Innovation is a forward-thinking concept that must use looking backwards to inform the decisions that we make: It is only through new ways of thinking and doing things that we can successfully move forwards. It involves asking questions such as “whats next?” “why are we changing?” and “How can we make the changes needed?”
Innovation is so necessary because our old ways of teaching and learning are becoming obsolete (Martin). As a teacher, then, my job is to help my students cope with the many new realities of today and their future: and to help them cope they (and I) will need to learn to innovate. To innovate as a teacher I have to glean through the old information and knowledge that has been passed on from previous generations, decide what is important and how to use it, and attempt to pass this on to my students, while allowing them the freedom and creativity to innovate on their own. To innovate I must constantly be looking to what the needs of the future are, and thinking of ways to solve these. Education will always need to change according to the needs of society, and as educators we must be a part of this change and not be behind and playing catch up.
“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterdays, we rob them of tomorrow.”
Hennessey, B.A., & Amabile, T.M. (2010). Creativity. Annual Review of Psychology, 61, 569 – 598. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.093008.100416
Martin, J.R. (1996). There’s too much to teach: Cultural wealth in an age of scarcity. Educational Researcher, 25(2), 4–16. doi: 10.3102/0013189X025002004
Mueller, J.S., Melwai, S., & Goncalo, J.A. (2012). The bias against creativity: Why people desire but reject creative ideas. Psychological Science, 23(1), 13–17. doi: 10.1177/0956797611421018