How Sustainability Sparks Innovation and Changes Education

How Sustainability Sparks Innovation and Changes Education

A comment made by one of the students in the entrepreneurship class after watching an episode of Shark Tank Kids. But that comment made me mad!!

"I wish I could come up with an idea as brilliant as hers, but I'm just not that creative.”

You see, there is a widespread misconception that creativity is something you are born with. Trust me when I say that is not always the case. Creativity is not always something you are born with. In actuality, creativity is a very much teachable skill. It is the end result of a process involving hard work and trial and error. 5% of creativity comes from inspiration or passion, but to reach or achieve something only through hard work can one can that. While some of us do have certain talents, I always tell my students that hard work always wins over talent. Why? Simply because creativity is a matter of trying and trying and trying hard until you get something right and it is not necessarily true that creativity is only associated with arty skills, and I think this is where the misconception is coming from. For example, dancing, singing painting, and performing would require a certain level of talent but don’t you think that even those Artie skills can be learnable?

See, it is possible to become creative at everything that you do, you can be a creative chef, creative stylist, creative engineer, creative mathematician, and you can be a creative teacher. Now when it comes to teaching creativity, quite many people think it can’t be taught, and that’s also not true, what’s true is that you can’t teach creativity through direct instructions for sure. The process of teaching creativity it’s a process of enabling and giving people opportunities, offering encouragement, inspiration, and mentoring as we go. Some teachers are gifted and creative who has been able to help students discover their talents because our job as educators is to instill inspiration in our students by offering different opportunities, ….we never know at what point in that process that creative element in their brain will click and unlock...

When we were young and in the early stages of any child’s school, we used to play, explore, create and be proud of what we do, no right, no wrong, and no pressure!!! But as we move up in the education system…. what happens? We begin sitting in a classroom, in a factory-style, one-way conversation, we become serious, and we learn to get the correct answer. We all pursue the same fields of study at the same time, and we start competing for the same majors in universities. In the future, we will continue to compete for the same jobs, just like the generation before us. Therefore, there needs to be a change in the way we facilitate learning.

So, with so much going on in the globe, including climate change, conflicts, poverty, and so on, sustainability is a hot topic. Sustainable practices are being prioritized by educational institutions, as well as large companies, corporations, and individuals. Astonishingly, topics about sustainable goals that are covered in the curriculum have been shown to inspire and support creativity. Educating a generation that is well-versed in the UNSDGs proves to improve our prospects as humans of preserving our planet's natural resources, as more community needs are being met. These days, tools like Roblox, Minecraft Education, and other apps are used in schools to encourage students to come up with original ideas and solutions. Students use them in all different disciplines to build solutions for UNSDGs such as the long walk in English Literature, food waste in science, rethinking plastic in entrepreneurship, and clean energy in the environment).

I make sure I set a challenge for my students and give them the freedom to embark on a journey in which they immerse themselves in a world with limitless possibilities that could translate their imagination of a better world and put their imaginations to use …. I think this is how the minds of generation X and Z work. They want to be challenged to show us how creative they can be. They want us to offer them the chance to be prepared for the future by developing certain skills. To get our students to be connected to global and community issues they need to develop those skills.  Not the traditional basic skills we peruse in school, reading, writing, and mathematics, and then aim to score high in standardized tests. As much as these are important, we need to offer students a new set of skills, skills that are essential to gain new experiences and be able to face the new challenges of the future world like creative thinking, what’s like to be agile, leadership, effective communication, imagination…etc.

Howard Gardner of Harvard University argues that our educational system which is built upon standardized exams and IQ tests narrows the student’s potential and intelligences. and I agree with him, as education should be an enjoyable interactive journey of learning and not a sequence of tests and assessments. This allows us to not only teach a student how to get the correct answer in the practice we use, but it also helps students get the correct answer every time they see the same skill.

This is the innovation that we are calling for, When the focus shifts from providing information to providing space and chances for learning experiences, education can become more innovative. Our children have a better chance to do things differently and understand that there are infinite possibilities for them to have an impact on the future. They could then understand that there are so many things they can do outside of what we and they know that would work for the good of humanity. And with that, education begins to transform. When nurturing creativity comes first in the system, our children have a better chance to do things differently.

That day, during the entrepreneurship class, I told my student. “ I don't think you're not creative; everyone has a creative side, you just need to be challenged and inspired to find it. and that’s my job.

Written by: Eman Hamshari Director of Education Innovation for Teaching and Learning/Taaleem

Eman's Linkedin: