Pencils, Backpacks, and Perspective: Inspiring Innovative Students

Today I’m going to talk a bit about inspiring innovation in the classroom. Kids are known for being, sometimes wildly, creative, and fostering that in the classroom will leave students prepared for almost everything. So, let’s look at this through a few of my favorite quotes about innovation.

1. “There’s a way to do it better – find it.” – Thomas Edison

Good ol’ Edison provides the perfect stepping stone to start on. Pose this question to your students, whether you’re addressing a math problem or school garden, and they’re sure to come up with some surprising answers. In giving them this type of goal, critical-thinking, problem-solving, and creativity can all be pulled in. Which, in short, is kind of like getting more for your money. This question packs quite the punch, and using it repeatedly will only help to make those skills concrete and lasting.

2. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” – Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson, of recent TED Talks fame, brings up a great point here. Today’s education system is so focused on standardized testing that kids are taught that making mistakes has huge and detrimental consequences. Not exactly a stress-free environment for learning. Which is why I’d advocate teaching students not to be afraid of making mistakes, and ¬†instead teaching them to examine their mistakes and figure out how they can do better, or even “fail better,” the next time. Nothing stifles creativity quite like fear of failure.

3. “Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” – David Frost.

This one, might just be my favorite. Too often students are told that they have to excel at a very specific skill set. And yes, most of those skills are important. But I think that students should also be encouraged to discover what they love. Once that discovery is made, they’ll pursue it with little encouragement. And being just that little bit happier about their education, could mean improvement across all subject areas.

How do you inspire innovation in your classroom? Do you have any more quotes like these that you refer to in your teaching? Let us know in the comments!