Thursday, March 27, 2008

Innovation and Education

We all seem to agree that the world needs innovative solutions for the confusing and complicated issues we face. However, we cannot teach people to think in new ways using educational systems that were designed to meet the needs of 19th and 20th century world. They do not meet the elegant aesthetic demanded by the future. We must have the courage to challenge some of our foundational assumptions about education, from pre-K to graduate school.

We have to stop using flat maps to describe round interconnected worlds. It is time to think, teach and learn using an ecology-of-thought model. This type of thinking challenges us to look beyond what we already know and can do toward what we wish we could do. If what we want is learners who can capitalize on diversity and build creative connections between art, culture, economics, technology, human relations, and science to become leaders in the world of innovation, we will have to create innovative curricula and round assessments that promote ecosystems of innovation.

We can do this through creating new programs in Innovative Studies founded on the following assumptions.
1. The world works as a system, hence thinking in systems, or using ecology-of-thought, is

necessary to approach invention or problem-solving
2. Critical thinking can be applied to problems within a discipline, but is not as effective at

creating links across and between disciplines.
3. To utilize ecology-of-thought, we must have breadth of understanding across several

disciplines, and depth of understanding, or expert thinking, within specific disciplines.
4. Innovation can, and should be, linked to any field of study from Archeology to zoology.

A new discipline of study in innovation would then serve to link ideas across disciplines and
cultures to find new ways to ask questions, new ways to explore answers, as well as new cognitive courage to hear ideas.

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