The secret to fostering a generation of innovative students

Innovation; News; Research
The secret to fostering a generation of innovative studentsAs Thomas Friedman highlighted in a recent article in the NY Times there is a growing movement to shift education towards making children ‘innovation ready’ as opposed to ‘college ready’. He references Tony Wagner, the author of Creating Innovators , who believes that our students should be ‘intrinsically motivated, curious, persistent, and willing to take risks.’

We completely agree.

However, we also think that if we are to succeed in fostering a generation of innovative students, we need our schools filled with innovative teachers. More than technology and funky new classrooms designs, it is our teachers who can create environments where students feel confident to take risks, try new ideas, and solve problems.

So how do we train and sustain innovative teachers in our schools to make shift happen?

At the end of a Changemakers workshop every table and wall is covered with hundreds of ideas to solve education disadvantage. We know that for these ideas to turn into reality the teachers need to recreate the inspiration and optimism of the workshops in the staffrooms and classrooms. So we leave them with five simple tips to take home.

  1. Come up with outrageous amounts of possible answers: When you are in ideation mode, have your team come up with one hundred answers to a problem. Write every one down on a post-it, and get everyone to say them out loud as they stick them on the wall.

  2. Crazy ideas are awesome: As every idea is presented, celebrate the crazy ones. No matter how out there it is, just roll with it, as it could always spark another idea.

  3. ‘Cool, and maybe we could’: If you love an idea that someone has just stuck on the wall, build on it, sticking your ideas right next to it.

  4. We need to think about: If you are worried about an idea, don’t attack the inventor. Instead respond with ‘we need to think about...’ so the group can innovate a way around it immediately. And finally...

  5. No negativity: In the ideation phase write everyone’s name down on a piece of paper or the whiteboard and chalk them up for a $1 fine every time they shoot down an idea.


Happy innovating, and if you have any pictures of walls covered in post-it notes with great ideas, tweet them to us @Educhangemakers and @BastowInstitute.

Aaron and Dave
Education Changemakers
The guys who love helping to make shift happen.

If you are interested in participating in a Changemakers course Bastow Changemakers is now open for applications for Term 1, 2014. Applications close on the 14th of February so make sure you get in now to secure your spot. See the Bastow website for more details.