Raising Innovative Kids

I work at an educational publishing company, where I have the good fortune to access some great insights and information from our authors. I read many of our authors’ books and, although I’m not a teacher, I often find a way to apply the knowledge to my life as a mother, wife, and professional.

I recently read Bringing Innovation to School, by Suzie Boss. In addition to being a gifted writer, Suzie is an advocate for project-based learning in schools and dedicates a lot of energy to social justice work. I find her to be an incredibly inspiring woman and found myself taking copious notes while reading her book.

One page in particular caught my attention. I’ve been mulling it over quite a bit. Suzie challenges educators to ask 4 questions of themselves. Of course, the original language is directed toward the education community. I’ve altered them slightly here to apply to parenting:

  1. How tolerant am I of out-of-the box thinking from my children?
  2. Do I encourage suggestions from my children? Am I willing to listen to new ways of doing everyday things from them instead of constantly directing them?(Ok that’s 2 questions in one I realize–I added the second one.)
  3. Am I willing to challenge traditions that are barriers to innovation?
  4. What will successful innovation look like in my family–from adults and children alike?

It’s easy to say “I want to raise my kids to be independent thinkers and confident problem solvers.” However, when I read these questions, it made me realize how much of my time parenting is telling my children what to do. Of course there are non-negotiables. Playing freeze tag in a busy street will probably never fly as a good suggestion from Eva or Shilo. But, when we’re cleaning house, cooking dinner, playing a game, out running errands, why not do a little more listening and less telling. Why not open our minds to the brilliant ideas that can come at any moment from the mouths of babes? Do we inspire our children to create or do we (perhaps unknowingly) stifle innovative thinking by sticking to sacred cow routine? These are questions I hope will guide my parenting in a new direction.

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One Response to Raising Innovative Kids

  1. brad says:

    By Harry Chapin
    The little boy went first day of school
    He got some crayons and started to draw
    He put colors all over the paper
    For colors was what he saw
    And the teacher said.. What you doin’ young man
    I’m paintin’ flowers he said
    She said… It’s not the time for art young man
    And anyway flowers are green and red
    There’s a time for everything young man
    And a way it should be done
    You’ve got to show concern for everyone else
    For you’re not the only one

    And she said…
    Flowers are red young man
    Green leaves are green
    There’s no need to see flowers any other way
    Than the way they always have been seen

    But the little boy said…
    There are so many colors in the rainbow
    So many colors in the morning sun
    So many colors in the flower and I see every one

    Well the teacher said.. You’re sassy
    There’s ways that things should be
    And you’ll paint flowers the way they are
    So repeat after me…..

    And she said…
    Flowers are red young man
    Green leaves are green
    There’s no need to see flowers any other way
    Than the way they always have been seen

    But the little boy said…
    There are so many colors in the rainbow
    So many colors in the morning sun
    So many colors in the flower and I see every one

    The teacher put him in a corner
    She said.. It’s for your own good..
    And you won’t come out ’til you get it right
    And all responding like you should
    Well finally he got lonely
    Frightened thoughts filled his head
    And he went up to the teacher
    And this is what he said.. and he said

    Flowers are red, green leaves are green
    There’s no need to see flowers any other way
    Than the way they always have been seen

    Time went by like it always does
    And they moved to another town
    And the little boy went to another school
    And this is what he found
    The teacher there was smilin’
    She said…Painting should be fun
    And there are so many colors in a flower
    So let’s use every one

    But that little boy painted flowers
    In neat rows of green and red
    And when the teacher asked him why
    This is what he said.. and he said

    Flowers are red, green leaves are green
    There’s no need to see flowers any other way
    Than the way they always have been seen.

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