Everything starts with an idea, right? I mean how can you have new things in the world if no one had the idea first? It all starts with the idea, it's what you do with the idea that makes the difference.
I've started a new venture this year, with my colleague Lisa Wagoner, who is the librarian at our school. We are working together in our combined space that we have titled the "Libratory". Indeed, this new journey also began with an idea. The idea was that we could combine forces (Technology and Library) to create new experiences for our students. We wanted to teach them how to work as a team, how to persevere when faced with challenges, and to give them tools to solve problems (such as the Design Thinking Process). We wanted them to leverage technology as an effective tool, and be able to handle problems that have more than one solution. We wanted them to be prepared for the world they are in now, and the one they will face when they enter the workforce in approximately 2030. And also, we want the students to understand that same concept I mentioned already:
Everything starts with an idea.
And, perhaps more importantly- that their ideas matter and could (at some point) solve a problem for someone (or a group of people) and contribute positively to the world, or a little piece of the world.
How cool is that? For a ten or eleven year old child to start to realize that their ideas could really matter to a larger community and that they can make a difference in the world?
Think about that...
A ten or eleven year old child creating something that could potentially change the lives of many other people. And even if it doesn't happen today, tomorrow or even five or ten years from now, that child perseveres, seeks out the collaboration of others, tries multiple solutions in a systematic way and eventually comes up with something that works. The student started with an idea and knew what to do with it.
At the beginning of school year, Lisa and I read the book titled "What Do You Do With An Idea" by Kobi Yamada to all the classes. In the book, a little boy has an "idea" that follows him around. At first, he doesn't know what to do with the idea, and is worried that others might think it's a little crazy. But by the end, he is feeding it, playing with it and giving it his attention. The idea gets bigger and bigger until something "amazing" happens- the idea takes off and becomes "a part of everything".
While reading the book, we talked to the students about how ideas start, and equate the idea to an iPhone. Did people think Steve Job's idea was probably a little crazy? Did Steve give up and stop giving his idea attention? No, because we wouldn't have smart phones today if he did! He started with an idea, he gave it attention and fed it and eventually it became "a part of everything".
Kids have ideas. Lots of them. Lisa and I want them to realize that their ideas matter, are important, and can indeed, change the world. We want to give them tools to help them feed their ideas and to give them the attention they deserve. And, we want them to be confident in working with others and to understand how that can help to cultivate ideas.
Everything starts with an idea. It's what you do with the idea that makes a difference. Let's teach kids what they should do with their ideas and how to give them attention. Teach them how to handle multiple solutions, how to tackle a problem systematically, how to leverage technology, all-the-while, supporting them as much as we can. And then, after that? We wait.
We wait for the students and their ideas to change the world....