Why Innovate?

by Director of Technology Aaron Hovel
Originally posted on Pike Perspectives

I’m currently participating in a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) through Edx called “Launching Innovation in Schools” taught by Justin Reich and Peter Senge from MIT.  As you can imagine with the title Launching Innovation, there is quite a bit of talk about change.  But why innovate?  Often encouraging change can be seen as a negative comment on what we are currently doing, rather than recognizing that the need to consider change is because the workforce our children will enter will require different skills and qualities.  I highly recommend this video, where Justin describes the fact that over time jobs that are structured or routine will increasingly be done by computers.  He goes on to say that we need to teach our students to do work that computers can’t do. This falls into two categories:

**Solving messy or complex problems, which he calls “ill-structured problems.”
**Persuasive communication – communication needed to solve problems.

To prepare students for these tasks Justin Reich challenges us to think about all of the assignments we give in schools and consider how many of our assignments involve routine tasks. How many tasks ask students to solve ill-structured problems? How many projects ask students to engage in complex communication? My guess is that many assignments in most schools lean towards the routine task side, so we need to work to achieve a better balance with assignments.  What are your thoughts? Do you see this shift in your industry?  What types of skills are most important in the work that you do?  How do you see the needs changing in the future?

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