|"Toy Train" Archive NSW Library Australia. CC Public Domain|
"When all think alike, then no one is thinking."
There is more to technology and innovation than just Information Technology - or developing the next cool app or viral video. Some local groups, organizations and even governments are focusing on a more back to basics approach to Technology, "looking under the IT Hood", offering Pre-Tech and Pre-Vocational programs both formal and informal such as the Maker Movement which was jump started by MIT and Make Magazine. Take a look at the Maker Movement piece which aired last summer on PBS Newshour...
The Greenhouse: Planting Seeds, Adaptation and Weeding
The now classic educational methodology of inquiry-based, problem solving and using the idea of creative play is an extremely important, useful and and some would say a rather risky approach to STEAM education. Why? Creativity is hard to quantify in a neat graph or spreadsheet or much less understand or grasp - Creativity in many countries is considered to be an educational luxury that is not necessarily or usually visible or concrete.
Yes, there are some great assessment tools out there such as performance-based assessment, portfolios, exhibits, etc...but most policy makers and officials like the quick and easy numerical-based snapshot approach and do not want to have to weed through things like e-Portfolios due to a variety of digestible factors such as time. Arts are usually the first programs to get cut in an age of tight budgets and declining state/federal funding. Creative problem-solving or solutions-solving doesn't just happen in the quantifiable-world of mathematics - which is the most number-crunched and internationally assessed educational subject in the world today for global policymakers.
Knowledge Management: Creative and Experimental Acts of Failure
Though most of us take things and innovation for granted; many applications that we use and see today were in some cases driven by accident, happenstance, failure, risk-taking, foolhardiness, initial rejection and then mass acceptance through ultimate perseverance. Historically, in some cases the best "tool" or innovation did not win out in the "marketplace" - some were inspired marks of genius which were regulated to the dustbin of innovation history. Citizens and policymakers want quick and easily quantifiable results; whereas, creativity, play, tinkering are very difficult to understand from a factory-driven management perspective - some consider creative play to be time wasters which are difficult to process through number crunching via sophisticated algorithms and computers. The issue of the "consumer" is that we want things provided for or made/manufactured right the first time - we are not witness nor have the patience to care about the process concept, prototype, Design Cycle, analysis and re-design - we want IT now! Any creative act or creative person, scientist or inventor in many ways undergoes this familiar process.
If one looks at twentieth century innovation and significant strides in say travel from horse and buggy to cars, steam trains to bullet trains and planes to spaceships - most of the early advancements in transportation by many business and industrialist initially scoffed at the idea of why do we need such things and that they were impractical - in some cases they were disasters or death defying PR stunts. Of course, there were some famous proclamations by IT businesses, such as IBM about the future and need for computers and software innovation.
"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.
- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943
- The editor in charge of business books for Prentice-Hall, 1957
Hybrid seeds are now being sown in K-12 school programs, universities and districts in underserved educational sectors to benefit regular students not just for the gifted and talented populations. Early exposure and sustained intervention is critical to power STEAM driven education.
These are just initial ideas and thoughts to get the convo going - more discussion coming in later posts.
Trivia - What is the most commonly used form of people-moving transportation in the world today?