In this article in Psychology Today by Michael Michalko on Creative Thinkering, he explains why experts miss opportunities to be creative. Experts tend to specialize and miss the bigger picture.
The paradox is that people who know more, see less; and the people who know less, see more. Phillip Reiss invented a machine that could transmit music in 1861. He was dissuaded from converting it into a telephone because every communications expert in Europe convinced him that there was no market for a telephone as the telegraph was good enough.
When you review the history of inventions, most inventions might have started out as mistakes. Penicillin was invented from a mold that was not supposed to happen. This made me think about education for the last 100 years or so. The industrial model was designed to train people to do specific tasks to meet specific goals. They followed orders. They didn’t question authority. There was no opportunities to allow creativity or inquiry. The teacher did the thinking for the students. The textbooks did the thinking for the teacher. The teacher was the expert. This is mostly what teachers know and were taught.
Sorry, but this model is not working any more. Where are the factory jobs for the students who graduate from the factory schools? Everything is changing. Management is changing. Technology is changing how information and expertise is delivered and shared. Student-centered means that the teacher is allowing student choice in different situations about different topics. Most children can figure out how to use an iPad, tablet, laptop or smartphone. They grew up digital. They are learning to be curators of their own learning. This Ted.com video from 2007 shows kids teaching other kids without any guidance.
Michalko wrote in his article that if you already consider yourself an expert, you might stop imagining a possibility.
If we experience any strain in imagining a possibility, we quickly conclude it’s impossible. This principle also helps explain why evolutionary change often goes unnoticed by the expert. The greater the commitment of the expert to their established view, the more difficult it is for the expert to do anything more than to continue repeating their established view. It also explains the phenomenon of a beginner who comes up with the breakthrough insight or idea that was overlooked by the experts who worked on the same problem for years.
I see every child as gifted and unique. We need to stop asking how smart are you and consider what Garner wrote, “How are you smart?” Personalize learning so the learner discovers concepts and ideas and more. Why think the teacher needs to be the expert or that each child can only learn from one expert or one textbook. It’s time to rethink what learning, thinking and creativity is and how important it is to let go as a teacher. This will make the teacher’s role more exciting. Just imagine the joy, engagement, and excitement in the learning environment. I like the idea of tinkering, playing with ideas, being creative, and taking risks.
What about you?