Inventions or Innovations in Education?

5 10 2010

When the latest issue of Maclean’s magazine arrived in the mail, it somehow looked different. The title and fonts were the same, the publication’s size hadn’t changed, but the layout did. The publishers decided to do something innovative this month and they decided to spin the magazine 90 degrees.

They changed this particular issue to a “landscape” format with the staples on the short side of the periodical rather than the traditional long side. I’m sure it was a tremendous amount of work for one issue – changing the printing techniques and the ad layouts – but the result was effective. Slick even. Easy to open and easy to read.

 It’s been said that the only person who likes a change is a diapered baby. I’m not particularly fond of doing things differently if the original task is working just fine, but if the change makes it better, then I’m all for it. That’s really what technology is: making work that we must do, easier, more efficient, with less effort and less expense. The emerging generation is growing up in a world where change is now the norm.

 Innovation and Invention are two words that are often used interchangeably, but their meaning is quite different. Inventions are things that are produced that are new to the world. Innovations refine what already exist. Invention creates the mousetrap. Innovation makes it more efficient, easier to use or more profitable to sell. Invention is the light bulb. Innovation is the light show. Invention is the “think”. Innovation is the “re-think”.

 As a new teacher, I have been fortunate to be around some very gifted educators, many whom I would call innovative teachers. They have the natural ability to convey information in creative ways using fun and imaginative methods. They get their students to invest in their own learning. Often, they will bypass the worksheets for a more hands-on approach. These teachers realize that their role is not only to dispense knowledge, but also to solidify understanding. They thrive on seeing the “a-ha!” moments in student’s eyes and pay little attention to things like their own retirement eligibility date.

 The age of Innovative Teachers is here and I’m so pleased to know that my own kid’s will be the beneficiaries of such a fantastic approach to education.

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