June 02, 2014
Where Good Ideas Come From & How Your Classroom Can Respond
The source for innovative or creative thinking is as much as mystery as that of curiosity or particular genius.
In a traditional classroom, “having a good idea” is strangely not valued as much as the ability to demonstrate proficiency with a specific assessment form. In fact, “good ideas” can often be disruptive to a tightly-sequenced and outcomes-based learning process.
This is curious for a number of reasons, among them the reality that creative solutions and “good ideas” are the result of an artistic mingling of all that is right with learning, including:
- The identification of a problem or opportunity
- An awareness of potential resources and previous models
- The interdependence of people, technology, past experience, and collectively-wrought social goals
- The iteration of thinking that leads to a solution or further important thinking
Steven Johnson explains in the video Where Good Ideas Come From that “Good ideas come from the collision of smaller hunches,” a nod to both revision and timing. Among other things, then, good ideas require connectivity, time, iteration, and the macro recognition of systems & patterns. The ultimate lesson, Johnson explains, is simple.
“Chance favors a connected mind.”
5 Takeaways For Your Classroom
1. Create daily opportunities for students to connect in the presence of a pressing need (or need to know)
2. Resist the temptation to tightly package “instruction,” but rather provide diverse opportunities for students to demonstrate understanding both before and after open-ended collaboration
3. Support students in metacognitive thinking, helping them identify their own “hunches”; model how hunches converge in “the real world”
4. Use concept-mapping, journaling, and other simple tools to help illuminate what thinking and creativity “are,” where they come from
5. Consider swapping out direct instruction–>collaboration–>assessment patterns for more frequent acts of self-directed learning