What does it mean to innovate? To be an innovator? How have I progressed as an innovator? What have I learned about the skill(s) of innovation? What moments do I feel helped me understand how observation, questioning, networking, associating, and experimenting play key roles in the make-up of an innovator? In what ways could I grow as an innovator? How can I help myself do that? How can others help me do that?
ID has helped inspire so many of my blog post, and now that we’ve been going for about six weeks it has come time for the need of a reflection. I don’t really like to think about it only being “six weeks”, because while school started six weeks ago, innovation did not. Innovation never stops, it just starts for different people at different times. Innovation can’t stop because it can’t really be defined; it just is and it is about. (Which may be why I don’t actually have a tag for innovation.) I think more than anything, innovation is about making connections between observations and then taking purposeful actions to help people with a need.
Innovation comes when you get inspired to make a change, so you start finding other people with passions that align with yours. Then you find how you can combine different ideas and topics to make something new that solves or helps with a need in the world.
I set up a little challenge for myself; I wanted to make a story that combines every tag I have made on this blog to show how anything can connect even if they seem completely unrelated. To quote The Lion King, sometimes you just have to “Look harder.” (To add to the challenge, every tag is used in the order that it appears at the bottom of any of my posts to show the most tagged relative to the ones that aren’t tagged as much. )
This is the story:
School seems so separated from society, but at MVPS we are trying to make school into a more 21st century style of learning. To do this we must change people’s perception of school and make it more about design thinking, which involves creating connections and making challenges.
With ID (innovation diploma), we try to focus back on our school’s mindsets as we learn about growing up while we fail up. The Disney cohort loves the idea of being able to travel outside of school and participating in a structure more similar to Nerd Camp (Duke TIP) where there aren’t standards of what you learn, the important thing is that everyone likes learning and is curious to know more. We don’t want to wait for the future to make a dent, we want to start competition in the “real world” today.
Brainstorming is at the core of any great innovative idea, but it is not the beginning of the process. The beginning is just observing the world. It’s about looking DEEPer (haha, DEEPdt process) into things that you do and see every day, for me that would be things like school, gymnastics, soccer, and drama. The reason you observe is so that you find inspiration to take action, but often times that inspiration comes from listening to others, like watching John Green videos while you are sick. The really cool part to me is being able to identify patterns between reading blogs, TED Talks, Vlogbrother videos, or any other source of information because that is where really interesting ideas come from. The discovery part is relatively easy to do on your own, but ID has brought a new world of opportunity’s to the table that have encouraged us to ask HMW questions about the world around us. We wouldn’t get these opportunities in a typical class. As Albert Einstein once said, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”
My favorite musical is Wicked because it questions common perceptions about the world. There is a science to doing most tasks, and the great part about the science behind innovation is that the science isn’t a set process because it wants to encourage creativity. Creativity can’t be defined because the whole point is for it to be left to interpretation. The science behind it is just that there is a “method to the madness” (thanks Hamlet!). Over the summer I was in New York, one of the most creative places in my opinion, and I while there, I just started getting super excited for ID. I saw “Matilda the Musical” and there is one song called Naughty. It is about Matilda realizing that if something is wrong in her life, she, no matter how small or young, has the power to do something about it; it is really a crime to not do anything at all. This song really motivated me before the Disney Cohort all met for the first time. I still had many camps to go to before school started, and many more places for discovery time before we even got into adVentures. Now that school has started, we have gone on a bunch of great adVentures! Currently we are designing interim for those of us that stay, and I love seeing what we can come up with through collaboration. And that is just one of the many great experiences we have had.
ID isn’t all planned out. For this reason, a large portion of the school looks at ID like a mystery of unknowns. They think of it as a break or holiday from school, but what they don’t realize is that school isn’t the only place for learning and learning is the important thing. Rather than learning the quadratic formula, we use the quadratic formula to figure out how we can redesign space and how to use theater and preforming arts to make a good pitch. We go out into the world like how the rest of the school does on Helping Hands Day, to learn how we can give back to the community by providing them with service that is really valuable to them. We also work to improve our most immediate community; our school. We have even successfully gone up to the roof to try and find a way to create outdoor classrooms or a garden up there. This was definitely an eye opening moment for me because it said, “We can accomplish great things all on our own.” I’ve also loved how we have done a ton of writing, because it is really important for us to have good communication so that we can be unified while in an “unschool” environment. If it wasn’t for ID, I don’t think I would have started this blog, and this blog has really encouraged me to work on telling my story. It has given me a place to ask “why?” and to challenge norms with my own opinions; no grades attached.
One of my favorite actual classes (ID is a start-up, not a class) is Latin because we always manage to connect so many things together in a fun way. We have this saying in Latin, “There are lines, and then there are lines.” As an innovator, we try to push on that first level of lines because they are typically norms set up by society and not always necessary and/or beneficial. By hacking through norms, we find inspiration in the cracks. From going to the CDC on a school day and working with doctors about ADHA, I was then able to connect it to a doctors appointment I had where we mentioned allergies. This connection allowed me to develop a much deeper level of empathy for parents with kids with these circumstances. I’ve also learned that empathy can happen anywhere and everywhere. After working at the Sandy Springs Festival I met a new friend, and I developed empathy for her just by talking for a little. She was having a hard time getting back into the gym after growing older and I had a similar experience, and now she is going to join me for acro. Moments of visible impact, can happen anywhere if you look hard enough.
You never stop learning, so I can always improve on skills, but ID has really sped up the process of me learning and practicing real world skills. Through the experiences we have had, I have made connections that have been changing the way I think. I’m no longer satisfied with something being the way it is “just because”, and I’ve really accepted that I can and need to do something about things that I believe should be improved upon.
What I currently think I need to work on is seeing things all the way through. I’ve gotten pretty good at observing the world around me and being able to questions things, but sometimes I have an idea or challenge, but then have a hard time finishing. ID has yet to interpretive dance. We have gone to the roof, but nothing has really happened since (patricianly because it is up as a possible interim idea). We haven’t really finished unpacking the interim meeting itself yet. And I haven’t really developed my ADHA/allergy possible iVenture topic much. I’ve been pushing and driving things, but then not really following through. I want to, but I feel like there just hasn’t been time. I would love to work more on these things on my own time, but I don’t really have much free time due to school and other activities. I find that at school it is often expected for you to have a perfect little plan figured out before you start working, but I think all of my projects are at that middle stage where you have a thought, but it isn’t fully developed into a clear path. With the iVenture idea for example, I have an idea of a topic, but a question hasn’t just magically popped into mind, but I haven’t been able to just dedicate time to thinking about that and why it interest me.
While innovation can’t be defined, ID has really helped me discovery what it means to be an innovator. To be an innovator is to be able to develop emapthy for people while connecting observations, and to then associate and network with different people to accomplish great tasks. Now that we know about what it means to be an innovator, I really want the time to follow through on ideas and develop my thoughts further to make them into innovations.