The message in this book speaks volumes about giving ideas a place to grow and seeing what happens next. Ideas don’t disappear; they follow us. If we don’t allow them to develop in children as part of the learning process, we will continue to lose the spark of brilliance to rote compliance. Educators want the freedom to encourage kids to cultivate their ideas and bring them to fruition. Sadly, this is not the norm in classrooms today with enormous pressure on them to meet testing requirements.
Educators need flexibility with an evaluative process based on authentic learning experiences and the environments in which they take place. Would it hurt learning if kids were given "20 percent time" to develop ideas? We think not. Major corporations such as Pixar and IDEO pride their successes on creative work environments, and others like Google and 3M encourage employees to use 20 percent of their work time to play freely to stimulate the growth of new ideas. The upshot of this free time is the many products and services that are second nature to us today.
The more we review our own curricula, the more we see the importance of devoting time in class to allow students to cultivate their genius and creative thinking. To be fair, it should be in school, to give all students the same opportunity. Too many of them are overscheduled outside of school, and others who don’t have the means are at a disadvantage. While we applaud makerspaces and maker fairs, they require payment to attend and parents with time and interest to take their children. By bringing it into the classroom, we can promote a culture of collaboration, guide kids through mistakes along the way, and celebrate the natural growth of discovery.
Steve Jobs was allowed to tinker in his father's garage; Bill Gates played with computers from a young age. Need we say more? Their ideas changed the world, literally. What we want for our students is exactly what the child in the book discovers:
“Then, one day, something amazing happened. My idea changed right before my eyes. It spread its wings, took flight, and burst into the sky. And then, I realized what you can do with an idea… You change the world.”We don't need to throw out structure and assessment; what we do need is a new system that supports student learning and allows for higher order teaching. With more choice, we can empower the brainchild in both.