12 Innovation Lessons for Education in 2014

Ideas based off Letter from the Editor in Fast Company March 2014. What I am doing here is taking those ideas, changing some of them to apply to education, but more importantly taking the lessons and explaining how they work in education. The descriptions are my own. The lessons come from the magazine. I did tweak a few.

1. Exceptional is Expected – This should be a mandatory for everyone involved in education. Educators work with students, communities, and families who don’t always have this expectation. I think it is imperative that we lead the way by believing and teaching with this mindset. The key is to do things at a high level over and over again. Not just one time or for one project, but day in and day out. When we have people involved in education that don’t expect exceptional quality a division is created and issues start to arise. We must all be in this together. Not easy, but needed.

2. Innovation is Episodic – As we push for more hands on learning, creative thinking, innovation, etc. in schools we have to remember that we are pulling students 8-10 different directions daily. We have to remember that we are not creative and innovative on a daily basis and we have to remember that students are the same way. As we push to a more creative and problem solving environment don’t forget we deal with humans who happen to be in a kid phase and therefore cannot be creative day in and day out all day long. We have to have an ebb and flow. Even more important, we cannot forget that we are human also and we can’t always be creative day in and day out as educators. Give yourself time to recover and find that new path of innovation.

3. Making gains matters – the letter stated money, but money is not a goal for education. Rather we need to broaden our reach and work to bring in our customers over and over again. The customers are the students. When we have classes of 20-30 students every 45 minutes are we reaching as many as possible? Can we continue to work to gain more interest each and everyday? This is the goal we should strive for as educators.

4. Sustainability has a new found gear. Work to sustain your classroom on your own. Yes, we could all use a little bit more of this or that, but don’t let those barriers hold you down or keep you to making more excuses. What can we use around us to make ends meet? We can make an impact with the resources we have around us.

5. Unlocking Global Talent Unlocks Possibility – if you are not developing a PLN that extends beyond your school to people and educators from around the world, then you are missing out. Even more important is that if you are not reaching out, then your students are not reaching out and that is not fair to them. They should be sharing their learning journey, connecting with others, and building a PLN that shifts and shapes as they grow older to becoming a tool and network they go to when they need help.

6. Passion is Underrated – I get it! I am on the passion bandwagon. I do see the value of the other point of view. However, there is nothing more powerful than connecting with others who have similar interests and passions and working together to develop something even better than what currently exists. Crowdsourcing, teamwork, and collaboration will move ideas into action and not just an idea you thought of once. Reach out with #5 and make things happen.

7. Conflict isn’t required – Sometimes you don’t need conflict to get your idea across. Rather, you just have to work around the system and create your own path. If you have an idea that you think is worthy of pursuing go for it. Instead of building a wall of defense anticipating others to critique it, be an advocate and pursue the proper course.

8. Happy Students Make You Happy – so why would not work to make this happen? Teaching can be a real pleasure when students “get it”, are active in their learning, and the classroom just develops a wonderful vibe. So, what are we doing to help them feel this way so we feel this way? We have to launch our teaching moments just like the announcement of a new product. Bring it with pride, enthusiasm, and a passion. Don’t let this job become a job!

9. Software Beats Hardware – We have to equip students with the skills necessary to design and innovate. As educators we cannot always do things about the hardware that the school supplies us with. However, there are enough free or low cost software titles available to really create powerful learning moments.

10. “Made in China” is a compliment – When others copy your style and want to do what you do, then you should be proud. Don’t be satisfied, but take time to pat yourself on the back. We don’t do this enough. When people seek you and want to use and do what you do, then you have something good. In order for this to happen you need to share what you are doing. Go back to #5 and develop that PLN.

11. The Biggest Winner in the App Economy Remains Apple – this lesson has no direct connection to education, but what I see here is this – don’t be afraid to be yourself. If you don’t like the system that you have to adhere to, then create a new system. Don’t go getting fired, but create your own space to create yourself and share your ideas. We are not going to be able to eliminate standardized testing or other top down systems, but we can do enough of our own thing in the day to day life to make things happen. Don’t be submissive. Do what you know is right.

12. Dreaming Big Isn’t Folly; It’s Required – the most important to me personally. Develop grand ideas and every once in a while let your guard down and go for it. Just dive in! Enjoy the journey and who cares the outcome because it is about the journey.

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2 thoughts on “12 Innovation Lessons for Education in 2014

  1. Thanks, Aaron, for another thoughtful post! Some of my thoughts…
    1. Exceptional is Expected – Although she doesn’t frame it the same way, I think Amanda Ripley’s The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way touches on this. She says “In Korea and Finland, despite all their differences, everyone – kids, parents, and teachers – saw getting an education as a serious quest, more important than sports or self-esteem. This consensus about the importance of a rigorous education led to all kinds of natural consequences: not just a more sophisticated and focused curriculum but more serious teacher-training colleges, more challenging tests, even more rigorous conversations at home around the dining room table. Everything was more demanding, through and through” (115-116).
    4. Sustainability has a new found gear – sometimes “What can we use around us to make ends meet?” leads to discovery and innovation.
    9. Software Beats Hardware – a couple of resources, in case you haven’t encountered them yet: https://www.touchdevelop.com/, http://ajjuliani.com/teach-students-make-flappy-bird-game-just-one-class/
    12. Dreaming Big Isn’t Folly; It’s Required – I need to learn to do this frequently!

  2. I’m retired from full time teaching now, but as a teacher I believed in the points (1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, & 12) and strived to apply them in my classroom. I felt it did help my student; and today it is needed more than ever. Your article is right on target – continue to spread the ideas.