What does innovation mean to me?

Grade 9 student Shifaa shares her thoughts about innovation at JASS:

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you hear ‘Innovation’? Actually. Think about it.

For me, I think of the word ‘Invention’. And for the longest time, I thought that the two were practically the same thing. I mean, they sound similar enough, right? After stumbling on an article while in English class and doing some further research, I found that the two are actually not the same at all.

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An invention is usually a “thing”, while an innovation is usually an invention that causes change in behaviour or interactions.”

This phrase caught my eye and I thought for a while. To make things more simple, I created an example. The example might be that an invention is a special type of watch. An innovation would be that this watch would determine how many people interact with each other, for instance, if the watch showed the wearer’s Zodiac, blood and personality type, then two people may compare watches when looking for a spouse, a worker with specific personality, etc. etc. and this watch would therefore change the behaviour of someone and their interactions with another person.

Another example is the iPhone. It’s both an invention and an innovation. Clearly it’s an invention because it’s a new device that no one has created before. It is under legal protection, has been patented, etc. etc. But it’s also an innovation because it has changed the world. It has changed people’s behaviours (in negative ways as well, but that’s a different topic), interactions with each other, the business world, the entertainment world, the mental and health world…the list is huge.

So what does innovation mean to me, in a school setting?  In a new class called GLS (Guided Learning Strategies), originality and innovation were topics discussed.  So what is original?” Was the question. My personal conclusion was that: There is almost nothing human made that is original. But the fact that we copied and remixed those ideas, originally from nature (nature IS the origin), and remixed them again from our innovations. This is what created the success of the human species.

Issac Asimov (the author of the famous book I, Robot) said in one letter of his:

Rather than lecture sessions where the presenter proves how smart he is by showing his results and finished work products, the cerebration sessions are used to “group think” new ideas, new possibilities, and new combinations of knowledge and experience which could find new answers and new directions.”

Here at JASS, I believe that this is exactly what is attempted to be initiated in the students. Instead of our teachers presenting the information, we are split into groups and told to brainstorm using our current knowledge to complete the task, with the teacher giving us tips on how to do so.

As an ex-homeschooler, most of my previous work was very independent and I learned to think for myself and self-regulate, which are both important skills. But in school, I now have a chance to use the knowledge and experiences of other people and add to my current knowledge–something that did not happen on a daily basis while being homeschooled.

Now that we have identified what innovation is, this blog should conclude how to further implement this idea of innovation. Let’s once again look at the famous science-fiction writer’s words:

“First and foremost, there must be ease, relaxation, and a general sense of permissiveness. The world in general disapproves of creativity, and to be creative in public is particularly bad…The individuals must, therefore, have the feeling that the others won’t object.”

A similar system is implemented in businesses such as Google and other such organizations (Apple, Facebook, etc.). The first is the culture of cerebration, of promoting employees to share and internally market their ideas and projects. The second is that they realize that the working of the brain and group-think are key components to turning invention to innovation (turning a thing into it actually interacting in society).

If we as students are to succeed, they must be given an environment where innovation will occur naturally and often. Here at JASS, I believe that this is happening, and all that is left is for us to remove the barriers of reluctance and awkwardness and dive right in.

What does innovation mean to you?

Over the past two months the staff at Jean Augustine Secondary School has been engaged in discussions about innovation in the classroom while reading  The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros.

When we last met as a staff we discussed the evolving nature of innovation and the idea that innovation is a continuum, for both staff and students. In those discussions we realized that innovation meant different things to different teachers dependent upon our experiences, our passions, and our goals. In conversations with students we found the same to be true.

Our last meeting prompted the question: “what does innovation mean to you?”. Over the next few days watch for blog posts from both staff and students as we explore this question!