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Experience Can Be A Detriment In Supporting Student Innovation

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Recently, I had the opportunity to be part of a TEDxYouth event in my school district. My talk (embedded below) centered around the idea that the past experiences that adults have had can be an obstacle for us as we support students who look to veer off onto a different path. Of course, this is not meant to say that we cannot support students in their pursuits, but just a word of caution that we need to be careful not to shoot down ideas too quickly when we do not see a successful outcome. 

In reading Adam Grant's Originals, I stumbled across the following excerpt which articulates this phenomenon well:

"In the face of uncertainly, our first instinct is often to reject novelty, looking for reasons why unfamiliar concepts might fail...Rice professor Erik Dane finds that the more expertise and experience people gain, the more entrenched they become in a particular way of viewing the world...As we gain knowledge about a domain, we become prisoners of our prototypes." 

Is there any institution more "entrenched" than our educational system? We certainly need to encourage breaking from our traditional way of doing business. As we head into summer, I hope that educators everywhere will spend some time thinking about minor or major changes they can make in their schools and classrooms to encourage students to develop their ability to create new solutions to old problems. 


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