Great Linkage on Common Core, Daring to Innovate, and the Architecture of Creativity

Three deeply intertwined strands of thought blew in through the blogosphere and Twitter feed in rapid succession yesterday.  Any or all of these would make rich fodder for a faculty workshop or administration team reading.  I received the links because earlier in the week I wrote a blog post “Join the Flamethrowers”, arguing that incipient brushfires of innovation need vigorous and courageous fanning lest they be drowned by the ambient damp climate of inertia.

Mike Thayer (@gfrblxt) Tweeted me a link to David Cohen’s long and thoughtful essay (On Larry Cuban’s blog) on the tension we are feeling between that innate desire to light more flames of innovation and the reality of the Common Core.  Powerful thinkers on both sides argue that the CCS are a step in the right direction, but that we can’t afford to sacrifice another generation of students to “just a step”.  Do we truly have to choose between what we know is right and the constraints of pragmatism, to only work within the hand we are dealt?  I am not by any means a scholar of the CCS, but my takeaway is that these standards allow some latitude where courageous risk takers can push well beyond where we are today.

Within a few hours my friend Bo Adams (@boadams1) had Tweeted a link to this video of a group of public school teachers in my home town of San Diego,  subject to the evolving CCS, throwing flames of innovation with the best I have seen, collaborating on their idea wall, blending subjects to build context, pushing themselves to grow as teachers, as lead-learners, finding that exact sweet spot between the standards-based hand they were dealt and the possible they can reach for. Clearly they are not letting the dilemma kill great innovation.

And following the video Bo linked to this article from ASCD on “The Case for Curiosity”, a manifesto that we all know to be profoundly true, yet still largely ignore, particularly at the higher grade levels where the quantum packets of subject over-rule all else. As Bo constantly reminds me, we have been pushing the importance of curiosity and questioning for decades; can we stop talking about it and start a real shift?

A few minutes later Thomas Steele-Maley (@steelemaley) from the Bridge Year program had sent me the link to this Vimeo that will take me a long time to fully digest. It looks at creativity and the management of knowledge in the information age through the eyes of an architect, and what are we as educators but architects of our own, and our students’ learning?  Design thinking was not invented by our friends in Silicon Valley and the Stanford d-School.  It has been with us for centuries, and now we have to apply it within that vast neural network of knowledge creation and management, the global ecosystem that I have taken to calling the cognitosphere.   This video is deep and rich and some will say it is beyond our reach at the K-12 level, to which I respond “it better not be beyond our reach because it defines our reach.”

Much to digest!

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