I’ve spent the past few weeks working my way through The Innovator’s DNA, a fantastic book on the traits of truly creative people by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen and Clayton Christensen.

One of the key points that resonates with me is that innovators are constantly seeking out opportunities for intellectual collisions–interactions with a diverse range of individuals and ideas that can challenge assumptions and help to highlight new perspectives on old issues.

(download slide and view original image credit on Flickr)

Think about that for a minute, would you

Intellectual collisions ARE important to new thinking, aren’t they? I know that in my own professional career, the most innovative ideas that I’ve ever had were the result of interactions with others who saw things just a little bit differently than I did.

Heck, that’s the best part of working on a professional learning team.

But if exposure to a diverse range of ideas and individuals is essential for generating new thinking, shouldn’t we be doing more to teach our students specific strategies for generating their OWN intellectual collisions?

Shouldn’t kids be learning to:

  • develop a deep awarness of their own understandings?
  • analyze the diversity of the groups that they are a part of?
  • efficiently design systems for introducing more diversity to their own studies?

Better question: Do schools and teachers–who often spend their entire careers teaching the same classes in the same buildings with the same peers—have the expertise to teach students the skills necessary to be innovative and to generate their own intellectual collisions?

Best questions: If we REALLY cared about developing innovative thinkers, how would our classrooms need to change?  How would our systems of student assessment and school accountability need to change?  Who is responsible for leading these changes?

We constantly hear that the one advantage that Americans still have over international peers is our ability to innovate.

Can we maintain that advantage if we aren’t systematically showing our kids the specific behaviors of innovators?


Related Radical Reads:

Teaching Innovation with the Curiosity Box

More on Teaching Innovation with the Curiosity Box

Environments that Build Walls




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