These are my notes from the opening convergence session at the 2010 Creativity World Forum titled, “From Imagination to Innovation.” Panelists include Scott Noppe-Brandon, Matt Brown, and David Edwards. MY THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS ARE IN ALL CAPS. WHAT A GREAT CONVERSATION THIS WAS!

Bio of Scott Noppe-Brandon, executive director of Lincoln Center Institute: Scott is the author of the book, “Imagination First.” Bio of David Edwards: David’s website is www.davidideas.com. Bio of Matt Brown: co-founder and Play Czar of big BOING, LLC.

Panel on Education

David: Big issue: we typically don’t curate the experimental process of learning in schools

What should schools do differently?

David: Kids who are coming to my class at Harvard are living in a lab
– explicit understanding that David Edwards is not the fount of information that I perhaps wish I was
– understanding that learning and information transcends the school
– there is a group of us who understand the role of us as teachers is to inspire our learners

Scott: In schools we have created a perfect disconnect between facts / standards / accountability and creativity / imagination
– how do we strike that balance between what some would call too much openness and too restrictive

Now addressing: With our NCLB pressure to raise scores, realistically can school teachers and principals do any of the things you’re talking about
– David: We are seeing the accountability movement hit its own wall
– you can’t turn on your mobile learning device without hearing imagination and creativity in the workplace being discussed
– they are in perfect alignment now, we just need to follow through

David: Clearly we are in a world where specialized learning has a value
– the amount of information to absorb and filter, understand what is relevant for my career path is limited
– it is hard to argue against the need to specialize
– when does that specialization occur?
– all major questions
– a challenge and opportunity which exists is to create ‘sandboxes’ or labs, areas of experimentation from primary education through university education… while specializing a student is able to step out of a specialized mode and understand his/her ability to learn will be driven by their ability to dream, to empathize, to create the future
– how do you synthesize the reality of specialization, the need for experimentation
– our massive institutional momentum exists today alongside educators as human beings: to radically change the system overnight is to risk a fragile educational program
– there is a need to evolve: I advocate experimenting in zones, not just education: culture and commerce too
– we are all a part of this
– creating these experiments which can amplify this core experiential learning opportunity is key

David: remember Einstein played
– creativity is the ability to experiment toward productive ends
– anyone who works alongside a pioneer in their field will realize these people are incredibly youthful, incredibly interested in opening doors they might not be expected to, willing to be wrong, very interested in being around young children
– there may not be so much difference between Einstein and Da Vinci

Matt Brown: Creativity is the ability to produce that which is imagined
– need people who can go deep into their domains (maybe that was Einstein)
– also need synthesizers (that was Da Vinci)

Gallop Poll shows the frequency that brain changers appear in society

Scott: We are addressing things all schools can do: have rigorous curriculum knowledge but also creativity, experimentation, etc.

Now: question about ACT and college admissions
– assessments today don’t bring together these different areas
– we are in an era where people are saying HOW can we create these assessments, not IF

Matt: story of interviewing students from my alma mater
– example of a student who had created magazines, clubs, etc.

David: What is happening increasingly at the university level is faculty are looking for “special characteristics” which are difficult to define
– had student who started company at 13, sold it at 17
– applied to Harvard later, he got in because some schools were looking at his record and not just his test scores
– Big article in Wired magazine now about his company
– so I think the process is changing now

New question: What is one thing universities could do to put more emphasis on creativity in admissions and in teaching

David: Being able to articulate a dream and articulate a dream that matters would be a great start

Matt: Maybe ask students to describe their “play history”
– sharing anecdote from JPL
– people from CalTech, elsewhere were able to

MY THOUGHT: YES, THIS IS PART OF THE CASE FOR TINKERING AND SCRATCH!

David: The concept of play in higher education is SO misunderstood

Deep collaboration and play looks like spaces where we can deeply influence each other via interaction
– we don’t have control: control is a myth

David: We all know people who remain y
– relies on this willingness to remain innocent, to keep experimenting, keep trying, keep failing
– I tell my students one of my big roles is to work on preserving what you are trying very hard to eliminate: Your innocence

David: Many of the environments we find ourselves in as adults have a low tolerance for experimentation
– so how do we curate our lives to remain innocent and young? That’s a challenge
– in a real way our children are curating ourselves

THIS REMINDS ME OF OUR FAMILY LEARNING BLOG: LEARNING SIGNS! IT’S A GREAT SPACE FOR CURATING OUR EXPERIMENTATION… OUR LEARNING JOURNEY, OUR FAILURES AND OUR SUCCESSES

David: Every time a child projects a dream they are sharing a renewing experience for me

New question: the development of creativity over time
– James Flynn looking at raw IQ tests: IQs were rising about 3 points every 10 years
– that is a 30 point increase over a generation
– question: has that or is that happening with creativity? Or are we suppressing creativity now and so it’s more rare?

David: The public needs to be participating more in the experimental process

Matt: Creativity is not inherently good or evil
– do we as a society have consensus on our objectives?

WHAT A GREAT CONVERSATION THIS WAS! OVERALL I DO WISH WE HAD MORE WOMEN INCLUDED ON THE PANELS AND AS KEYNOTES. PERHAPS THIS CAN BE IMPROVED NEXT TIME. THIS WAS A GREAT CONVERSATION WITH SOME GREAT MINDS!

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