PROCESS POST: Contemplating innovation, homework, practice…and their intersections. Iteration One.

There is much talk of “innovation” in schools and education these days. (There’s much talk of innovation in just about every sector and industry.)

I wonder if we – those of us in schools – are really facilitating the experiences that student learners need to practice, to be and to become innovators.

Now, upon a great deal of my research and study about innovation, when I hear the word innovation, I think about the five traits and characteristics outlined in The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators.

And, I also think about homework. Yep, homework.

Innovators DNA - 5 Skills Slide

What if we simply assigned those five verbs as homework for our student learners?

  • Observe
  • Question
  • Experiment
  • Network
  • Associate

What if the student learners came to school each day with stories and inquiries about how and what and whom they…

  • Observed
  • Questioned
  • Experimented with
  • Networked, and
  • Associated?

What if these organizers were the strands by which learners weaved their archives and documentations via their eportfolios? What if more of the time in school ignited from the fuses and sparks generated by these verbs and developing habits of mind?

How might we facilitate the engagements, the curiosities, and the pursuits that compel learners to be and become innovators….by, well, practicing the five skills of innovation?

How might we homework our way to better learning and to enhanced schooling?

How might we educate for the innovation we expect and need in our world?

Could it be that simple?


10 thoughts on “PROCESS POST: Contemplating innovation, homework, practice…and their intersections. Iteration One.

  1. Pingback: PROCESS POST: Contemplating innovation, homework, practice…and their intersections. An Example. Iteration Three. | it's about learning

  2. Thanks for the post. In contemplating my own learning and teaching, I have a little more clarity on the direction I want to pursue. Perhaps I am slow to catch on but this school year I am just beginning to understand how I can “teach” innovation. Guidance is always appreciated. I suppose when the student is ready the teacher appears.

    In reading John Taylor Gattos’s acceptance speech, “Why Schools Don’t Educate” I got a glimpse of what constitutes a “family curriculum.” This idea, which I have thought about but never named, is something that could be grounded in the 5 traits of innovation. I think ALL family members, from young siblings to elderly grandparents, could contribute to helping our students with homework that involves these skills. Like “table topics,” they could serve as something that fuses the family while fostering students’ innovative talents. Oooh, I think we’ll create a box of table topics for Valentines Day for parents, all oriented in the 5 traits. Thanks for getting my brain out of holiday fog.

    • Jenny,

      Thank you for your comment and response — and the continuing dialogue. For what it’s worth, I don’t think you are slow to catch on – teaching for innovation is a big shift and pivot, and a challenging one. I think it takes years of cyclical iteration through exploration, interdependent learning, and re-iterating.

      Your weaving together of this exploration and the Gatto piece is an excellent connection. And I’m glad to read that some of the thinking in these shared pieces has contributed in some ways to your own pedagogical decisions! That’s exciting.

      Happy New Year!


  3. Pingback: PROCESS POST: Contemplating innovation, homework, practice…and their intersections. +Awe. Iteration Two. | it's about learning

  4. I like it. I read something by Drucker saying that innovations often take place when there is a mismatch between the way things are and reality. So, sounds like time for some real homework! Thanks for the post!

  5. If you look at the book, “Play” by Stuart Brown M.D., you find a list of different play-types like Myers-Briggs personality types. The more conscious I became of my primary and secondary play-types, the more I use those forms of play to challenge myself as a learner, and it leads to greater innovation on my part in the work that interests me (a practitioner) (work as art–Seth Godin) (work as play–Dan Pink and Mihaly Csik.)

    The 5 innovation principles are all at work when I engage in the above. Maybe this is ludicrous, but couldn’t the above experience be an extremely valuable and worthwhile homework for young people?

    • Craig, thanks for this fabulous thread connection to Brown and #PLAY! There is nothing ludicrous about your idea. For learners to engage in more learning about themselves certainly leads to deeper learning in other areas. I love the intimate relationships among #PLAY and #INNOVATION.

  6. Excellent ponderings, Bo! I would add a critical addition– how might we as teachers/adult learners show the importance and value of each of these verbs by doing them ourselves in the presence of other learners (as well as by ourselves)? In so doing, we put our practice where our purpose is in the most meaningful way. Until we embrace these aspects in our learning, our embrace of them in our teaching will not be as authentic and powerful…

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