Why its difficult to teach innovation in schools…

Teachers in Singapore
Photo credit: Asiaone

If there’s anyone to teach our students to embrace innovation, it should be our teachers.

Innovation is not just using technology or using new ways to do things. But at the heart of it, innovation should be a mindset of change.

Lest our students lag behind in innovation and become to caught up paper chasing, they should be encouraged to explore and given opportunities to learn from failure.

Teachers as role-models

Right from the top, teachers should be role-models to embrace innovation.

In fact, Education Minister (Schools) Mg Chee Meng shared at the Ministry of Education ExCel Fest that teachers who “walk the talk will have a deeper and more lasting impact” on students.

Hence, our teachers have to themselves embrace the mindset of change and employ different techniques to educate and teach. Regardless of the subject, teachers can innovate and weave in different methods and techniques to impart the skills and information to students.

If teachers are to mould the future of the next generation as is the mission of the Ministry of Education, then surely the way to mould the next generation has to take on a new way; one that is innovative, so that the next generation embraces innovation.

Beyond just classroom lessons, our students also need to be exposed to life-skills and problem-solving skills, to deal with problems that come their way.

Singaporeans afraid of mistakes

There’s a common perception that Singaporeans are afraid to make mistakes. That is rather true. Who isn’t afraid to commit mistakes in life or fail in life.

But perhaps there’s where the spirit of innovation is stifled. If teachers constantly focus on the mistakes committed by the students or remind them of the consequences of making mistakes, how then should students learn to be innovative?

Google is a perfect example of how employees are encouraged to take risks and not worry about making mistakes. The Tech Lead manager of Google Now,  Yew Jin Lim says that at Google, employees are “reminded to have a healthy disregard for the impossible and to take risks, without fear of repercussions in case of failure.”

“We set ourselves goals we know we can’t reach yet, because we know that by stretching to meet them we can get further than we expected. this might mean that we might make mistakes as part of the creative and innovation process.”

Most of the time, we celebrate successes but not failure. Perhaps we should start viewing failures with a new lens, and “celebrate” failures as the mother of all successes.

 

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Arthur Lee

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