Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. — Lao Tzu
The type of learning that takes place in our schools across the world does not fulfill the needs of our children in the 21st century marketplace. A lot of children were already left behind in the previous years, and a lot more are going to be further marginalised if radical steps aren’t taken to rectify the situtaion soon. Most of our students who graduate are only good at going to school. They are only masters at getting A’s in tests and exams, but we need to remember that the world isn’t as structured as school is. The real world is dynamic, and you have to think quickly on your feet and constantly adapt to its flux.
We force compliance down the throats of students in our schools, teaching them conformity over authenticity, and to squelch expressions of their true selves. Then we throw them into the real world and expect them to be able to adjust to the mess that is life.
Compliance does not foster innovation. In fact, demanding conformity does quite the opposite. In a world in which new challenges constantly arise, students must be taught to think critically about what they are facing. They must learn to collaborate with others from around the world to develop solutions to problems.
What we really require to aid our students is to help them acquire growth mindsets.This will only happen when they ask questions. These questions are the ones that would shake the system up. These questions would motivate real change, and force us to embrace it in order to move forward.
Let’s work at changing how our students learn so that they can foster the right mindset and take hold of their future, to create a brighter tomorrow for all of us. If we need to create innovation for them, it starts from us and cascades down to them. After all they look up to us, their parents and educators, for example. We need to break the shackles of compliance that are holding most of us and become relevant again to the minds of our students.
Creativity needs to be fostered everywhere, rules need to be broken, inspiration needs to be drawn from going outside the box (and back inside at times) and relevance of the real essence of education elicited from our students themselves as they become key stakeholders of their own education.
Students desire innovative teachers, they recall teachers who touch their lives by drawing application from the real world to the subjects that they teach.
In my first year of teaching, I gave a project to my seventh grade class. It was titled the “Dream House Project.” I will never forget that project as long as I live. My students just let themselves go. We integrated maths, English comprehension, social studies, art, science and technology all in the project. I will go into the details of the project later. What is key above everything else, is that my students understood ‘area’ and ‘perimeter’ like they never had in their lives, due to this learning approach. It suddenly hit home and I also had so many eureka moments throughout the execution of the project. I started out teaching that semester with so much apprehension and fear about being able to create real comprehension and understanding for them. That project exceeded my hopes beyond belief and led me to my prevailing belief that all students desire innovative teaching. It is everyone’s job to create the atmosphere for it.
We need to encourage our teachers to learn and grow for our children’s sake. We need to develop a shared vision, align expectations, and provide pathways to ensure that all teachers have the resources to learn, create, and innovate to meet the needs of today’s learners.
The creation of an innovative society will need all of our inputs.
My book Reengineering Minds for Innovative Thinking is centred upon how we could re-engineer our thinking to enable the growth mindset we need to create the atmosphere of learning that our students require. It is also about how to create avenues of dynamic learning for them. It is about engagement and empowerment of all students. If innovation blossoms from all, suddenly we’ll find that the solutions to the problems we have are all around us.
Help us with our mission to bring about change for our students. Please contact me to see what we can do to bring about the desired transformation that we all desire for our children to be future ready!!!
Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur / Innovator
She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness. She runs an educational foundation with the mission to transform education.