What Innovation is and isn’t George Couros

 

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graphic by George Couros (pg 24) adapted from @PlugUsIn

 

I am working through George Couros’ new book, The Innovator’s Mindset.  It is a great read and it needs to be digested slowly.  In the first chapter of the book, George writes about what innovation is and isn’t.

This is extremely important.  Innovation is the new buzzword in education.  Just saying that we are being innovative doesn’t make it so.  We all know innovative teachers and administrators, but as George points out, having pockets of innovation is not enough, we need to be able to innovate as a system (pg 18).

Innovation according to George has to do with creating a mindset that leads to something new and better.  Making change just for the sake of change is nowhere good enough.

Richard Rohr has a wonderful quote that has meant a great deal to me.  He says, “We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” (Simplicity: the art of living, Crossroad, 1991)  What I take from this chapter, is that for true innovation to take place, we really need to start thinking differently.  We don’t need to change the whole structure of education, but we need to constantly evolve to make things better for student learning (Pg 21).

What a liberating idea!  To be innovative we do not need to reinvent ourselves, but we must live our  way into new ways of thinking. Technology can be a part of this new thinking, but it is not an end in itself, especially if it does not produce results that benefit the student.

What does this mean for our school?  If we are to be truly innovative, we need to constantly look at the ways we are teaching and how we offer new opportunities for our students to grow.

Staying still is simply not an option, not if we are to assume an innovation mindset.

The Innovator’s Mindset – George Couros

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I have been a big fan of George Couros for a long time.  I love his spirit and how he inspires people.  Now he has a book out – The Innovator’s Mindset (Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc 2015).  I think this is a very important read.  Even in the first chapter, we are encouraged to share our own stories, “because our students benefit when we learn from each other.”

I would like to use this blog to comment on what George is writing about.  When I can, I will add observations from my own innovators journey in the spirit of sharing that George is encouraging.

What I love about the first chapter is that George is clear on saying that innovation is not reserved for the few; it is something we will all need to embrace if we are to move forward.(pg 9)

How are we embracing innovation?  We all belong to large systems that thrive on stability.  How can innovation happen within these systems and how can it become part of what we do every day?

George makes a great point in this chapter that we can’t expect teachers to learn new technologies and train on ways to implement them on their own time.  At our school, the focus of our professional development is on digital transformation and we will do the learning during the school day as part of our professional development plan.

I am intrigued to see how we can develop a plan for constant innovation.  I think this idea is so important that I hope to write something about every chapter as I go through this book.

The bottom line is that we have to keep learning – George starts off the book with a great quote from Albert Einstein which we all need to consider, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

 

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We are embedding our learning into the school day this year. “As leaders, if we ask teachers to use their own time to do anything, what we’re really telling them is: it’s not important.”(pg 5)