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Innovation in Education: It is Time

I read an article about Innovation in Organizations.  Basically, the article and others I have read recently about organizations, highlight the growing need for a culture of encouragement for innovation cultivation.  However, the work force heading into these jobs are lacking the skills to innovate individually or collaboratively.  Our culture is quickly shifting to one that is creation-oriented and innovation-focused. It is incumbent upon those of us working in fields that educate and train future employees to provide and fuel the energy needed to innovate and collaborate for problem solving.  No longer are we an industrial nation centered around streamlined machine-driven assembly lines of mass production. Whatever we need created on an assembly line is produced elsewhere.  Whether that is a positive or negative is at the moment irrelevant, that is how it is.

Our educational system is still on assembly-line-mindset autopilot.  We teach our children as though they were all the same, as though we were preparing them to do the same jobs forever, or the same jobs their grandfathers/grandmothers and great-grandfathers/great-grandmothers did.  We don’t know what jobs they will be doing as they haven’t been invented yet, but those jobs are lurking as surely as new twitterers are lurking in the twitterverse!

My students don’t need me to fill their heads with facts that won’t help them succeed. They can find those for themselves in the cyberfactworld.  What will THEY gain from standardized tests which would be better used to test crashtest dummies or widgets? How are those tests meaningful to the students’ futures?  If I can’t answer that question, how can I expect them to buy into the tests?  Children/students/people are not standard.  We are all different and capable of things we don’t even realize because we are not encouraged to stretch beyond the standard limits.  Each individual deserves to have their learning be inspired.

What my students need from me are the skills that they can apply in any type of job they might have.  Informational technology is one area I must provide rigorous instruction in etiquette and usage.  How does one use the ever evolving technologies to live in our world and how does one innovate new technologies to help solve problems, conflicts, issues that may not yet exist?  My students need to hone sharp intelligent collaboration skills in order to work with all kinds of people in myriad cultures to solve problems that will affect us all, in fact the entire universe.  They need to learn to take risks, calculated or otherwise and not be afraid to fail.  In failure we learn and we have forgotten that in our attempts to shield our children from negative feelings.  We need to learn how to deal with failure and LEARN from it and with it.  Failure is part of the problem solving cycle, and students need to step into that cycle.  My students need me to help them learn how to ask questions that will lead them to answers, learning, growth, fulfillment.  My students most need me to help them uncover and unleash their passion.  For without a passion energized life/mindset our children are doomed to boredom, drudgery, and stagnation.

We cannot support status quo any longer.  It is suffocating us all.  Standardized tests are part of the status quo, promoting a culture that cannot exist any longer.  The educational system must begin today ~ no yesterday ~ to embrace each student as an innovator extraordinaire.  The very existence of our culture, world, and universe depends on each of the students that cross our schools’ thresholds.

What skills does your business or profession value most?  How can business partner with public education to exact the change that is necessary to promote innovative spirit in our students and teachers?  How do we sustain passion in ourselves, our students, our organizations?



  1. I definitely agree — and not only should students be innovators, but teachers too!

  2. Grand visions of change start with important baby steps. Communication is the ultimate change agent in this world and an effective baby step.

    As you have stated, our nation (and world) needs more formal and informal collaboration between education and business. Your post started a conversation that others might read, ponder, and maybe continue, if not here, then among their spheres of influence. People who desire change must start conversations, as you have done. Individually we add to a conversation, and it has the power to evolve into a grand collective endeavor.

    Zuckerberg, Gates, and others do contribute funds to improve educational efforts. This is good.

    What’s really needed is to make Educational Reform this nation’s TOP Priority. Only then will real innovation ignite and allow the USA to become its greatest potential. There are so many national and world needs (e.g., Somalia), and the USA can and must rise to collaborate with others worldwide, so these critical needs can be addressed in win/win ways that benefit our humanity.

    Perhaps Gates and Zukerberg will read this and decide to collaborate on a grand scale with others at Google, Twitter, and other stakeholders, etc., and establish a Summit on The Role of Educational Reform Regarding Survival, Innovation, and Progress for Our Planet.

    One last thought about your question of sustaining passion…

    We ask students to do their best, be their best, and contribute their best in their schoolwork. We are basically asking them to provide what the business community calls “discretionary effort”, a person’s willingness to perform above and beyond the basic requirements of the job; the difference in the level of effort one is capable of bringing to an activity or a task (such as school work) versus the effort required to simply get by or make do.

    We ask this of teachers as well, and many DO provide a discretionary effort, because most teachers enter the field because it is a “Calling” for them, NOT because of the high financial rewards! Yes, they deserve more money, and that must be corrected.

    If we want to encourage students’ discretionary efforts, teaching to their HEARTS is the key that then opens their minds. You are so correct when you stated, “My students most need me to help them uncover and unleash their passion. For without a passion energized life/mindset, our children are doomed to boredom, drudgery, and stagnation.”

    Discovering passion will help them be successful in their learning and throughout their career-life journey. Having open discussions about all this may be one powerful way that parents, students, and educators can collaborate and energize each other so change replaces status quo!

    New Tweet Chat #schools2life (2nd/4th Thurs 8-9pmEDT USA) & LinkedIn Support Site

    If you or your readers are interested, please bring your wisdom, enthusiasm, and paradigms to our new Tweet Chat #schools2life and the LinkedIn support site for discussions at where we discuss the huge transition all K12 students face after school. How can parents and educators collaborate as Leaders to use new paradigms to improve how we can more effectively prepare students for LIFE?

    Thanks Gillardp for your excellent and inspiring post, and mostly for the dedication you obviously bring to your profession! EdC

    • Thank you for your insights and contributions, Ed. I appreciate the added depth and breadth to the discussion! You always provide such an interesting perspective. I will continue to keep “disruptive” discussions alive. Peg

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