Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What I Believe About Innovation and the Purpose of Education - #IMMOOC

I am participating in #IMMOOC with a group of educators who are reading and discussing the book, Innovators Mindset by George Couros. I am responding to this week's prompt for furthering the conversation.

What do you see as the purpose of education? Why might innovation be crucial in education?

I strongly believe that the purpose of education is to create learners who can navigate the world to satisfy their curiosities and passions. Certainly, our students need to develop the skills, content, behaviors and attitudes that help them grow toward independence. But the path our students take provides so many innovative opportunities to develop those on the way toward becoming a citizens of the world. 

When a child walks into a school, he comes with a unique set of talents, interests, learning styles, strengths, challenges, dreams and passions. If our goal is to innovate, we have to consider each child as a learner who is like no other. When that child engages in learning experiences they need to be specific and focused on what he needs to become more independent, to be able to see a world of possibilities, and to love learning. A complete profile of the child as a learner is what drives instruction and discovery. We can and should be innovative about the ways we engage in the learning lives of our students.

So many people assume that innovation is closely aligned with the technology and the digital devices we can offer our students. But I think it is so much more. Digital devices are changing classrooms but so are the teachers who plan thoughtful learning and teach brilliantly.

So here's what I believe about innovation:

     The learning environment can be an innovation in itself. Going beyond the desks-in-rows mentality. Designing a space with a wide range of resources where students are comfortable, challenged and curious. The appearance and functionality of classrooms is changing.

     Relationships are critical to innovation. We build trust through relationships. When teachers and students feel valued and trusted they take the risks that move them towards their goals. I consider the relationships among the adults in the school as important as those among and with our students. With strong relationships in place we can venture out from our comfort zones to be creative, curious, and passionate.

     Innovation can be represented by who is in charge of the learning. I think the biggest innovation we can make in our schools is to break down the heirarchy of learners. I have always hoped that schools could be places where there are no big people and no little people. Imagine that! A school where everyone is a learner who drives their own learning. I believe that everyone in school learns alongside each other. We are all on a journey.

      Lastly, I believe that innovation can be sustained when there is shared leadership among students, teachers and leaders. The voices of children and the voices of teachers need to be heard. The school environment can be led by the strong voices that are part of the fabric of the school.