“In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It is how we make our living... If we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas – then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.”
— President Obama, from his 2011 State of the Union address.
The world has changed, and it’s no secret the education system in America needs help keeping up. Creative problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration are essential skills for citizens of the new world economy. Yet, our focus on standardized instruction and testing doesn’t prepare our children for success. These methods infer there is one right answer, that consulting your peers is against the rules, and that learners should conform to standards rather than apply unique thinking. It’s time for a change. The ways of the past won’t propel us into the future. This is why frog was thrilled to participate in the No Right Brain Left Behind (NRBLB) challenge.
The rules were simple: create a new idea, product, service, or movement that can integrate into an existing curriculum, is feasible with available technology, teaches creative thinking, and reignites a passion for learning. Another criteria that we felt strongly about was that all of our ideas had to be affordable to those with limited resources. Three frog teams were assembled to tackle this challenge from our Austin, New York, and San Francisco studios in an ambitious 7 day sprint of idea generation that resulted in four final concepts. These concepts will be evaluated by a panel of 12 judges that includes Sir Ken Robinson, Lee Clow, and Yves Behar. The top 3 ideas will be piloted in US classrooms in 2011 and 2012.
We look forward to the announcement of finalists on Feb 21st. Until then, check out our concepts below.
While schools are a part of larger communities, they can be isolated from the daily happenings in their own neighborhood. LocalAct is a social network that offers students the chance to apply their creative thinking to improve their communities, while offering community members a host of possible solutions. Teachers that guide learners through this process can share right-brained best practices with the network of participating peers.
Expanding on the thinking of experiential learning, Mentor Mash-up emphasizes learning by teaching as a way to inspire collaboration and creative thinking. This learning module motivates kids to find relationships between school concepts and their personal experience, while building the skills needed for future fearless thinking. Student “mentors” must identify their personal passion through which they will teach an area of expertise to younger kids.
Teachers today are bound by testing standards and strapped for time. This set of classroom exercises includes high-energy challenges, puzzles, and problems that require only 15 minutes to facilitate. Based on Edward de Bono’s lateral thinking, these subject matter-appropriate activities encourage brainstorming among individuals or within large groups. They can be used on a regular basis to inspire students to think creatively by placing more value on the process of problem solving than on the “right or wrong” answer.
Kids of all ages create stories as a way of making sense of the world. While a natural part of play, this spontaneous problem-solving often goes over looked in traditional school curricula. ImproviNation is a teaching approach that helps instructors use improvisation as an entry point for building language skills, while cultivating a learner’s ability to imaginatively relate to the ideas of others.