Sunday, January 25, 2015

Creating and Inventing

Ethos of Creation and Invention 

I am convinced that creating something new requires a group of people to embrace a cultural ethos of creativity and invention and not much else.  Historically, creativity was deemed one of those 'innate' capacities that individuals either had or didn't. Genius - individuals such as Mozart, Michelangelo, Da Vinci - was exalted and revered; a gift from God bestowed upon the selected few and denied from the masses.  In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth! As an educator, I marvel at the products of such individuals and I am beginning to wonder how my pupils can become creative.  Is there a formula or technique I can implement that might allow more of my students to have the opportunity to create and to invent something?  I believe the answer is very simple: embrace a cultural ethos of creativity and invention with your students!

At no other time in human history has human culture embraced creativity and invention as deeply as this time.   Not only is access to the knowledge and experts publicly available - through libraries, schools, the internet, - but also tools - makerspaces, internet tutorials, garages, community resources - are also widely available. Indeed, one need only to have an idea in mind and a little energy to ask some questions, enter a query, or surf the social media landscape, to get more information and they are off toward the invention!

Let me give you an example from my own attempt to invent something.  I recognized a need for an app that could be used to collect specific information from a variety of individuals using their personal devices.  I knew what I wanted the app to do, sketched out the data I wanted to collect, how I wanted the app to function and look.  Then, I used my search engine and web browser to find instructions about writing code for apps and designing an app for phones. I discovered that using Android coding was within reach, free and had the robust support of a Google environment. Within 6 hours, I had learned enough about coding language that I have a fairly functional mock-up of my idea.  While it isn't ready for deployment, I am certainly going to refine it to a point where it will be functional for a pilot.

Can anyone do what I did?  I believe that it is possible.  I just benefit from the current culture of creation and invention already present in our world.