Susie Boss: How to Turn Your Classroom into an Idea Factory

Image courtesy of Brightworks School
via Creative Commons.
At IHE we frequently talk about the importance of helping students become solutionaries -- providing them with the knowledge, tools, and motivation to solve problems and become humane, engaged citizens working to benefit all people, animals, and the earth. An important piece of helping students become solutionaries is nurturing their skills in creativity, problem solving, and innovation.

As Susie Boss at Mind/Shift mentioned in her recent blog post, "How to Turn Your Classroom into an Idea Factory," corporate CEOs and governments alike are anxious for students to gain skills in creativity and innovation. Say says:
"If we’re serious about preparing students to become innovators, educators have some hard work ahead. Getting students ready to tackle tomorrow’s challenges means helping them develop a new set of skills and fresh ways of thinking that they won’t acquire through textbook-driven instruction. Students need opportunities to practice these skills on right-sized projects, with supports in place to scaffold learning. They need to persist and learn from setbacks. That’s how they’ll develop the confidence to tackle difficult problems."
She continues:
"Across disparate fields, from engineering and technology to the social and environmental sectors, innovators use a common problem-solving process. They frame problems carefully, looking at issues from all sides to find opportunity gaps. They may generate many possible solutions before focusing their efforts. They refine solutions through iterative cycles, learning from failure along with success. When they hit on worthy ideas, innovators network with others and share results widely."
Susie offers 8 tips that teachers are using to nurture innovation in their students and create "idea factories":

1. Welcome authentic questions.

2. Encourage effective teamwork.

3. Be ready to think big.

4. Build empathy.

5. Uncover passion.

6. Amplify worthy ideas.

7. Know When to Say No.

8. Encourage breakthroughs.

Read the complete post.

We appreciate that Susie emphasizes the importance of focusing projects on real-world issues that students are concerned about. Our world desperately needs an entire generation of young people who are passionate and skilled in working to create just, humane, sustainable systems and to make choices that do the most good and least harm for all. The news should be full of stories about these young solutionaries, and cultivating innovation in the classroom is one important way to make that happen.

~ Marsha

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