Does Innovation Belong in School?

“Innovation is an endless quest.  Very few products are so good that they cannot be continually improved upon”Richard Branson

“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do”Steve Jobs

“Creativity is thinking up new things.  Innovation is doing new things”Theodore Levitt

A Call for Innovation

With a quick google search you can find a number of statistics that point to a need for leaders in our education system to step up and innovate.

As a parent of two boys, I have put it upon myself to encourage them early on to love learning – a love for learning that doesn’t wait for a school teacher to teach.  A love for learning that my kids seek out themselves in order to gain knowledge and advance on their own goals.  A love for learning that doesn’t put walls around them to define where they’re allowed to go with their abilities.

Many schools feel like an assembly line filled with boxes that have the appropriate age and grade levels marked on each one.  We’re told our children fit into one of these boxes based on their age.  Sometimes our children are labeled “gifted” by tests and are allowed to enter another box, but they will always have to fit into a box.  What if some don’t?

I hear many complaints from parents today that want better for their children.  Teachers are put in positions where their jobs are on the line if a child fails and the tests to prove their value become the focus of their studies.

An Example of Educational Innovation

Recently I sat on a panel at Windermere Preparatory School, a Private IB school in Windermere, FL.  In the 2015/16 school year, an Entrepreneurial Studies course was launched, spearheaded by Assistant Head Master, Steven Lyng, Ph.D and local entrepreneur and Course Director, Gary Conroy.  The students worked all year to identify a viable business start-up and it was now time for them to pitch investors.  I served on the investor panel along with three other incredible entrepreneurs from the Windermere Prep community.

In two nights our panel listened and critiqued nine presentations of business start-ups given by Sophomores and Juniors from the school.  As we judged the students’ presentations (think Shark Tank) and learned how the school had conducted the class, I was blown away.  These students are experiencing and benefiting from the results of educational innovation.

We need leaders like Gary and Steven who are thinking of ways to innovate the system and connect with students who don’t fit in the box.  It is people like them that are truly making a difference in our children’s lives.

We need to do better for our children.  Innovation belongs in school just as much as the teachers and students do.  Students should be encouraged to know no boundaries with their learning, and just as an entrepreneur owns their business, they should have the freedom to own their education.

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