Dr. Charles Leadbeater has some very interesting insights into education and innovation. He spoke to a large group of CoastMetro educators at the Italian Cultural Centre on February 17, 2012. The event, “Redesigning Our System to Personalize Learning: lessons learned and disruptive innovation in education” highlighted innovation from some unusual vantage points.
As an advisor to the UK Innovation Unit, visiting senior fellow with the British National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts, among many other groups and organizations, Leadbeater’s work centres on culture, innovation, creativity and change.
Are YOU an Innovator?
Leadbeater shared a simple graphic to illustrate his thinking about what it takes to be an innovator:
- A person who BELIEVES and BEHAVES is a FOLLOWER
- A person who DOESN’T BELIEVE and DOES BEHAVE is a COMPLIER
- A person who DOESN’T BELIEVE and DOESN’T BEHAVE is a REBEL
- A person who DOES BELIEVE and DOESN’T BEHAVE is an INNOVATOR
Leadbeater described an INNOVATOR as someone who is committed to a deep vocational purpose, such as an approach to teaching and learning, who does not behave, that is, they are “brave enough and odd enough to challenge deeply held conventions.”
If you embody the beliefs and behaviours of an Innovator, Leadbeater noted that people will likely think you are “quite mad half the time.” And of course the possibility exists that you might be quite mad all the time. However, he described the future of our education system as being “in the hands of those who will disrupt it in important ways.” A fine line here, but one worth ducking under, stepping over or going purposefully around.
The Eureka Myth
According to Leadbeater, innovation is highly derivative, cumulative over a long period of time – a mixture of inventing and borrowing. It is highly collaborative, involving old and new ways of thinking. The Eureka Myth is simply that – a myth. As educators strive for highly collaborative, purposeful teaching and learning environments, embrace the use of “both, and” (for example, think analog, digital and whatever we create), we are well on our way.
Innovating through Technology
Leadbeater described children as just soaring with technology; they think of it like they do water. Whereas we want to don a wetsuit, flippers, mask and fins, the children just jump in. I am keen to dive in, splash alongside, and explore the rich environment. I know someone will throw me a rope when I need it. How about you?