Public education in America is in a state of flux. In 26 states, including California, legislators are adopting new standards and curriculum to teach our nation’s kids. During my 14 years in teaching, I have taught mostly from the multiple choice assessment standpoint. It has its pros, but there are certainly many aspects where it just doesn’t work. What I would like to see is a more real world curriculum, in which kids are nurtured in their individual ideas and inventions. We don’t just want kids who can pass tests, we want kids who can invent the next iPad and help save our healthcare system. Inspiration, Innovation, and Invention
Most agree with the thought above. Unfortunately however, the path is not as clear. I don’t have many ideas on how to make every school successful. I do, however, think there are some universals that should be taught in the public school classroom. The first is Inspiration. The simple question teachers should ask themselves here is, “What inspires me to be productive?” I don’t know how everyone would answer that question but I can tell you my answer: music, movies, restaurants, travel, the beach, just to name a few. Listening to great music empowers me and makes me want to do amazing things. All the other things do as well. We need to help kids identify passions and then make the connection to inspiration so they can lead productive lives. Students who have been shown the inspiration connection will make a larger contribution in their early adulthood.
The second classroom “must” is Innovation. We need to put kids in situations where they can make solutions in adversity. A great way to do this is to show them how we do it as adults. This can include bringing in successful grownups as guest teachers to share how they get through their day-to-day; not just paying the bills, though that is important, but creating inspiration for themselves and others through solving problems. Kids who learn how to innovate and solve problems in school will be more productive members of society. In the advanced cases, these are the types who will cure cancer or create pathways to peace.
The final part of classroom curriculum we should focus on in education reform is Invention. Bill Nye the Science Guy has an amazing episode on this topic. He shows how important it is to everyday life. When I put a piece of tape on my alarm clock button, it makes hitting snooze easier. That is a simple example of human invention. Students who have coaching and practice inventing will invent better things in their homes, communities, and worlds. If a teacher can inspire invention in her/his students, they can truly change the world.
Once again, there is much disagreement on what education reform should look like. At the same time, I think all Americans want to see higher productivity in our land. I really feel that as we look to alternative frameworks, we should consider these “Three Is” as equivalent in value to the “Three Rs:” Inspiration, Innovation, and Invention. Our kids, the future citizens of America, will thank us if we do.