How to encourage students to be thinking innovators
The 19th century aristocrat Sir Francis Bacon came up with the two-semester college schedule. He claimed he was drawing a firm foundation for a utopian society where there were no class schedules, which encouraged all forms of intellectual endeavor.
Before the 4th and 5th years, though, he created six to eight hours of “single class writing each week and three hours of solemn reading, laying to waste the previous month’s feeble military production for war.” He supported it by creating a class called Learning Discoveries in Science and Technology in which students were required to invent and evaluate products.
The science has been rebuked by students and faculty alike. No list of the most-debated activities would be complete without a mention of inventions such as the spiral notebook and the hammer. These inventions were a product of the 1st and 2nd session.
Today, professors are asked to push the boundaries of learning, take risks and explore new avenues. Even if you, as a student, are not on a medical research team building a vaccine, you may want to show your inner genius through inventions of your own.
It’s not going to be easy. You might be terrified to make mistakes. Parents can get on the you’re-too-smart bandwagon by saying “What are you going to do if you don’t follow your passion?”
When we suspect our kids will fail to master the basics, we will give them permission to fail. We can say, “Well, if you don’t want to do it, you can go out for field trips or make a video on a certain topic.” Allow us to recognize that if they want to be leaders or innovators, that they will need to do things outside of a college classroom. Allow us to be guided by them and to succeed by them. Allow us to accept that there will be times when we don’t know the answer. And before we hang up our gavel, when one gets stuck on something, we should ask ourselves, “Is it the way they approached the project, or were they starting at zero?”
Occasionally, we fall short of our goals. This can happen when we enter into a project without considering our commitment level. It could be that we didn’t have time to do all the research or budget to be an executive producer. We can understand that there are times when we have to be accommodating, by accepting that we might need help and that we need to be patient, letting the process play out to learn what our kids want and need.
Students need to become leaders, and you can help inspire them to improve their grades if you support them and play with them outside of class. Consider giving them a contest to put on a project or competition in order to encourage them to push themselves.
The science of innovation for an educator is the constant evolution of learning styles in your classroom and the interactions with students. Out come ideas, and you have to try to recognize which ideas and approaches are more marketable than others.
Every day, I learn that putting my kids in entrepreneurial adventures in order to better train them for their career goals is worth all the struggle and the perceived anxiety it brings. Giving them a chance to invent in an environment where they can be who they are and where creativity prevails offers a wonderful learning experience and an incentive to succeed. We can build a genuine connection of personal connection with a kid, so much more powerful than how expensive a dorm room is! I help my students take charge of their learning by talking about businesses, travel and what they do for a living when I interview them for my Cents On The Scene writing assignments. Our classrooms are adventure playgrounds, and the opportunity to “patent” ideas is all around us. Be inspired. If you can’t invent your own ideas, then it doesn’t hurt to borrow some.