What Does It Mean To Be A School Of Innovation?

We are Campbell School of Innovation, CSI! What does that look like?

Over five years ago, CUSD set out to design a new TK-8 school program. Our design team explored many different directions for our school and we brainstormed many different names. We were drawn to design thinking and the idea that we wanted to empower our students to be creative problem solvers with strong empathy skills. While Innovation has at times been an overused buzz word, it does declare who we are and what our vision is for our students. So what exactly do we mean when we call ourselves "Campbell School of Innovation?"

If you look up the word innovation in the dictionary, it states, "Innovation can refer to something new, such as an invention, or the practice of developing and introducing new things."  Our world is chaotic and in a constant state of change at the moment and we know our students will need to be adaptable, empathetic, and strong critical thinkers.

Indeed.com has written a great piece around the importance of innovative thinking skills. 

"Innovative thinking is a creative thought process used to generate ideas and solutions. It is a complex task that involves finding new methods to approach problems or procedures. Innovative thinking produces results that change or challenge the status quo."

If you look at the many problems that our world and community are currently facing, this is the type of thinking that is needed. Combining innovative thinking with design thinking is a natural fit.  Part of innovating requires a human-centered approach to help develop a deep understanding of the challenge and the people that are needing a solution. 

The article offers some ideas for building an innovative mindset:

  • Nurture your creativity - Here at CSI, we work to build students' creative confidence by offering many opportunities to create, make, and build. Creativity takes practice. Brainstorming requires many ideas and a constant push to move beyond the obvious. As we grow older, we lose some of our creative confidence and are less likely to take risks in this area. The more we can help students build this muscle, the more likely they are to engage with creative pursuits throughout their lifetime.
  • Learn to use failure- We value the power of "yet." While learning is all about making mistakes, it is the reflection that follows that helps us move to mastering a skill or a concept. Understanding that failure offers an opportunity for practicing our creativity and resilience raises the comfort level of failing forward.
  • Consider every idea- We often see students take their first idea or the loudest idea and run with it. What happens if we take a moment and not only listen to everyone, but let our ideas flow without judgment?  Innovation is about getting beyond the first idea or maybe even the first 50 ideas.  
  • Widen your knowledge base - The more you know, the more you understand complexity. Many businesses look for people who are "T-shaped" thinkers and learners. These are people who know a little bit about a lot of things and a lot about one particular area. The purpose is having a deep understanding and mastered skill set in a certain area and also an awareness  and some knowledge of other things around you so you can make those innovative connections.
  • Recognize innovation - We often walk through the world without really paying attention to what's around us. Stopping to recognize the many iterations of something, think of long distance communication, helps you appreciate the small innovations that have occured throughout its development. Looking to see how those innovations happen can help us understand and create our own innovations. 

CSI is and will be a continual work in progress That is a part of innovation. Education is a very large system that has become very path dependent.  Continually reflecting on our practice and adapting to students' needs will help us as educators look for ways to engage students in new ways and innovate our practices. Our goal is to model these practices for students and teach them skills and mindsets that will help them move through the "Age of Unpredictability" with empathy and success.