Does Your School Have a Culture of Curiosity and Trust?
Time Brown, CEO of Ideo:
Any organization that wants to innovate, wants to be prepared to innovate, I think, has to have a few things in place. One is-and perhaps the most important thing is-methods for having an open mind. A sense of inquiry, of curiosity is essential for innovation. And the quickest way for removing curiosity in my opinion is to have organizations that are too inward-facing, that don’t spend enough time out in the world, particularly with their customers or the people they would like to have as customers or the parts of the world that they would like to have customers in. But a sense of curiosity, an openness, a sense of empathy for the world, for people whose problems they might be trying to solve-that’s essential.
A second thing that’s important is an ability to create spaces where trust can happen, where risks can get taken. We tend in our operationally minded view of the world to try and mitigate and design out as much risk as we can, but if you want to innovate, you have to take risks. And to take risks you have to some level of trust within the organization, because if people get penalized for failure, particularly the kind of failure that’s most useful which is where you learn a lot, then they’re not going to do it, in which case you’re not going to get any innovation.
Schools are by and large incurious and risk averse. Creative learners are not. This isn’t news, but we’ve created a culture in education that comes nowhere close to understanding the power of failing well at every level, from leadership to teacher to student. We incrementally, safely try to get “better” as opposed to bravely innovating our way to becoming decidedly “different” in our vision of what modern teaching and learning best supports our students.
Too few schools are incubators of curious and creative learners given their cultures of standardization, fear, and tradition. No doubt, external pressures exist that drive that culture. But if there ever was a time to shift gears, this is it.