Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

As my students were asked individually to ponder about innovation, many looked worried, confused, and well, frustrated.  They knew in general what innovation was but struggled to articulate its meaning on paper. I intentionally asked them to work alone at first before heading towards the collaborative opportunities.  Students all shared how creativity and making this better were at the heart of their innovation definitions.  This in mind, I asked if the idea of innovation and creativity was stressful.  Nearly all hands in both classes who are partaking in this project went up faster than one could blink.  Students shared how society seems to be placing a lot of stress on the need for our youth to be creative and innovative and that its something that ALL students need to be/have. I could not help but be proud of their honesty towards this response. It is something that we shall be exploring over the course of this project.  Is the idea of innovation something that is too big and stressful for our youth?  Is is this something that is spurred on by the inventions and thoughts brought to us by social media?  Can we, as educators, remind our amazing youth that innovation and creativity is something we all have and it takes many forms.  These are the things that that spun through my mind as my students discussed the ideas amongst themselves then as a group. 

With their thoughts in mind, I opted to fast fowrard with this group of Grade 8s to better understand the 4th Industrial Revolution and to see the different shapes and forms innovation can take over the years that connect to overall human and earth well-being. As we watched the short video prsented by the World Economic Forum, my students looked on with a bit of awe, intrigue, and hunh?  As we quickly debriefed, many shared concerns of not being able to separate what was natural from what was technologically created. They worried about emotions being lost on humans with technology being integrated more rapidly into the mind. It led us to chat about the divides in the world between those with oodles of money and those with what some could see as average down to this with little. Would the rich get all the best benefits of future inventions or would the utopian view mentioned in the view pervail and equality prosper. Oh how we went down a small rabbit whole and all en francais! In an effort to bring my students back into a positive mindset, though the the conversation we were having was awesome but time was tight, I opted to shift them slightly to discuss the idea of innovation and iteration in the development of products and infastructure. I hoped they would celebrate the good that innovation can bring to the world so as to lead us into connecting innovation to the Sustainable Development Goals and blending it seemlessly with some grade 8 geographic expecations here in Ontario. 

Thus, the last thirty minutes of our class was spent doing some collaborative research on celebrating innovations found throughout the world that help people and the planet, to have a better life. The conversation of worry and stress as to technology taking over our brains, shifted to smiles and a few 'whoooa c'est cool'.  That is perhaps one of the greatest joys of being an educator, we can together, with our students, shift the mood of the class and find the positive in the blink of an eye or in this case, the push of a computer button; thanks innovation. :)  

Bell HS