A daydream … is just a means of eavesdropping on those novel thoughts generated by the unconscious. We think we’re wasting time, but, actually, an intellectual fountain really is spurting.
Innovation = changing your world for the better … innovation could be changing the way you raise your children in order to encourage them to think more creatively and seek knowledge better. That would be a truly noble innovation and one that would profoundly change the world of your family, your children and their future. Frankly, to my mind, it is also a far greater innovation than 99% of the corporate innovation I read about.
The new wave of educational technology will leverage our greatest natural resource: the curiosity inherent in every child.
“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” ~Thomas Edison
Neoteny, one of my favorite words, means the retention of childlike attributions in adulthood. Childlike attributes include learning, idealism, experimentation, wonder, and creativity. In our rapidly changing world, not only do we need to continue to behave more like children - we can teach our children to retain those attributes that will allow them to be the world-changing, innovative adults who will help us reinvent the future.
…each time one prematurely teaches a child something he could have discovered for himself, that child is kept from inventing it and, consequently, from understanding it completely.
The Third Teacher
We went for a short walk yesterday and my 3yr old son took a bag to collect things along the way. He made many discoveries and commented on the obvious differences between them - colourful, big, tiny, sharp… he was exploring the endless options that nature provides us with.
Upon returning home we pulled out a book on nature to learn about what he had found. He preferred to ‘match’ his finds with the pictures, which allowed him to continue to extend his play and learning himself. He took great care to study the images and look for similar details in his hands. He then tucked his bag of treasures away to rummage through again later. As a designer I think of it like ‘collecting inspiration’. Nature has certainly provided much inspiration for innovations we all use today. Biomimicry is fascinating to say the least, a great source of research for designers as well as scientists, architects and engineers.
There is a concept known as ‘The Third Teacher’ - the physical environment, (after adults and peers). Pioneering Italian educator and psychologist Loris Malaguzzi founded this Reggio Emilia approach to learning, which reminds us to think about how we learn as well as where we learn.
Children And New Experiences- Little Observational Research Experts
When a young child is experiencing something for the first time, they seem to be so deeply absorbed as they observe with open eyes and an open mind. I’m sure we could all slow down a little to experience life and really understand what is going on around us, instead of letting it fly by without noticing… What else might we be missing out on?
As a designer we use very similar skills during our design process. We call this human-centred observational research; gaining empathy to identify the unmet needs of the end user. The things that have been overlooked, that no-one else noticed. The inspiration for the ‘why-didn’t-I-think-of-that’ design solution.
Noticing The Little Things
The most famous question I hear from my children is “why?” Kids are so naturally inquisitive their curiosity leads the way. They have this deep desire to learn about the big wide world; to watch from a train, pick a flower, jump in puddles, explore, find the answer, observe people, listen to noises and study how a caterpillar crawls. They seem to want to understand how and why in every little detail. There is desire to try new things, to absorb their environment with open ears and eyes to learning. They are always the ones that notice the little things.
Learning About People
I’ve seen how my young child may watch someone closely with big wide eyes and a fixed stare, without feeling like they are invading someone else’s privacy. I can see they are learning everyone is different, people do things in different ways and maybe even how to relate to others and simply make that human connection.
Time To Experience
As my child sits on the train to watch the world race by they are taking it all in. What they see as well as the feeling, the whole experience. It’s something new, something exciting to add to their memory bank of life. They love new opportunities with time to listen, observe, learn and quietly absorb it all. Then I just have to find the time to answer all those questions…
Everyday there are new opportunities. My kids don’t need to look far to learn something new, to study something…. as little as the way grapes connect together on a stem and how easily you can pluck each and every one of them off. The resulting ‘skeleton’ is just as fascinating.
I’m trying to spend more time experiencing things with a fresh mind, from a new perspective rather than taking it for granted. I wonder what we could learn, what we may discover, just by using our beginner’s mind.
Children, Please Play With Your Food
Stop playing with your food and just eat it! ….Sound familiar?
I’m sure it all started with the ‘train-of-mushy-baby-food-to-get-my-baby-to-eat’ and it hasn’t stopped since. Even if it takes a little longer to get eaten its much more fun to play with it. Their ideas are far more imaginative than mine. Last nights dinner ended up as stuffed potato pirate boats with broccoli and bean sails and the peas and corn are treasure when you put the top back onto the potato. Carrot sticks became swords, but we had to constrain some of the play when their imagination took over from our table manners and peas became cannon balls flying across the table…
There is a lot of creative food play at our house, not all the time, but often. They enjoy it and when they have fun they actually eat too.
Last week there were no lemons to juice but my son quietly found a way to make his boring water into a refreshing watermelon drink.
When our kids eat they are not just filling their tummies. I hope they enjoy every last bite.
The creative adult is the child who survived.
My feet thought they had shoes on, but I’ve just noticed that they haven’t.
My 5 year old son’s genuinely surprised response when I asked where his shoes were upon coming home from school today.
Never-mind the lost shoes… isn’t this a wonderful example of a ‘beginner’s mind’ when you can temporarily dislocate your mind and body?!