Friday, March 11, 2011

The necessity of inventive thinking and its challenge to educators

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It is said that “necessity is the mother of invention.”  In our schools, we certainly are faced with a variety of necessary tasks and challenges to overcome.  These may change from school to school and from class to class, but I am not aware of any educational institution that does not face some sort of necessary challenge.

While necessities may spark invention, I would also say that the very challenge to become more inventive about teaching is, in and of itself, a necessity in schools.  I am not saying that teachers need to come up with a radically new approach to their craft.  What I am saying is that reframing what we already know about teaching to reveal fresh, new ideas is essential to professional growth and for motivating both teachers and students.

So if a necessity of teaching is to be more inventive in our thinking, then how can teachers search for ideas to explore that inspire this form of thinking about their instruction?  In other words, what can teachers do to gather options that address inventive thinking?

This is where various opportunities to engage in collegial discourse about what goes on in schools is valuable.  In light of this issue, many will point to social networking such as Twitter and Facebook as the solution.  I believe these are valuable options, but are even more valuable as part of a holistic approach that includes on-site teams, conferencing (either physically or via video), and reading works by other good teachers (blogs, books, and other publications come to mind).  Inventive thinking is also a reflective practice.  Teachers, in the course of drawing upon experiences, often are exposed to “ah ha!” moments which can serve as models for future ideas.

Keeping a class fresh and motivated to learn can be a challenge.  A little inventive thinking can go a long way in helping address this issue.

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