How do we start to innovate inside of the box?
I started this journey originally with an online course from San Francisco’s Exploratorium on the ‘Art of Tinkering.’ (https://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/ ) I’d gone hunting because generous parent donations had enabled me to upgrade a good deal of equipment in our science department. I knew it would take months if not years to revisit curriculum to get some of the cool stuff I wanted to get into the hands of the students. I proposed a weekend activity based on tinkering ideas (I teach at a boarding school). The proposal was accepted and the path was marked.
That’s a long way to say that to innovate inside the box must begin with one of the tenets of tinkering: start with what you have. I am lucky to have administrators that support creative tools for learning; and that I have the ability to try something new without fear of losing my job! But I think that comes partly from being a life-long learner myself; and always reading and keeping my mind open and wondering if that or this new idea would work for this or that. In addition, as a scientist, I know that most things are not going to work the first time – I have to be able to see the positive nuggets and pull those out for a new setting, a different twist etc.
I don’t think it’s the “how” that is often the impediment, nor the fear of failure. I think it’s the idea that innovation must be new and radically different. I once took a course on technology in STEM education. The first lesson was how the pencil was technology – it was a tool that made a job easier. And that’s all it takes.