How to Talk to Kids about Innovation & Creativity

This podcast provides a view into schools and how teachers and administrators can help cultivate innovation and creativity in their students. Change is hard- but if we look at our students in terms of their strengths and empower them to be problem-finders as well as problem-solvers, the real innovation can be discovered. And that is good for everyone! George Couros, The Principal of Change, is interviewed.

Special Guest: George Couros

Our kids are naturally curious and yet, in so many circumstances in their lives, they are told to learn what is put in front of them, memorize other people’s ideas, theories and solutions, regurgitate what they heard, sit down, take in, spill out, repeat. This is no way to foster innovation or the development of new and better ideas, theories and solutions. So what do we do? How do we cultivate innovative learners who can think critically, build on what they’ve learned and perhaps come up with something completely different than nobody has ever seen or heard? Our next guest has a lot to say on the topic.

George Couros is a leading educator in the area of innovative leadership, teaching, and learning. He has worked with all levels of school, from K-12 as a teacher, technology facilitator, and school and district administrator, and is the author of the book, The Innovator’s Mindset; Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity. He is a sought after speaker on the topic of innovative student learning and engagement and has worked with schools and organizations around the globe. George is also the creator of Connected, an initiative that brings educators and leaders together from around the world to create powerful learning opportunities for students.  Although George is a leader in the area of innovation, his focus is always on the development of leadership and people and what is best for learners. His belief is that meaningful change happens when you first connect to people’s hearts. You can connect with George on his blog, The Principal of Change ( or through Twitter @gcouros.  

The podcast provides:

  • Tips: How to gain an innovator’s mindset
  • How to bring innovation into the classroom and the schools
  • A discussion of digital leadership
  • Scripts on how to get your child to think about digital leadership and what they can do TODAY to make a difference.
  • Scripts on how to get kids to look inward and figure out their passions and the problems they want to solve.
  • A new way to look at kids, their ideas and their creativity.
  • How to personalize the school experience for our kids and use their strengths to help them learn
  • How technology can enhance education

Important Messages:

  • Innovation is doing new and better things—and anyone can attain it!
  • Teachers and Administrators need to think of themselves as innovators. Everything doesn’t need to be new- but if it no longer works…innovate!
  • Parents are thinking; “I want you to understand my kid- I don’t want you to just do whatever you do with every other child.”
  • Check out the awesome way one teacher flipped her classroom so that her lesson on Mitosis was not so boring—and became innovative, student-centered and awesome! In a high-poverty area, with this new way of thinking, now ALL of her students passed! WOW.
  • If kids do something innovative with the material instead of regurgitating it to the teacher, they remember it!
  • If we want kids to step up and be innovative, we need to stop telling them they are the leaders of tomorrow- they are the leaders of today!
  • Sometimes kids are going to do things they don’t like—but they need to know you value them.
  • Technology can personalize opportunities for our kids.
  • We can use our children’s strengths to help them personalize education and thrive in the classroom.
  • It can be counter-intuitive to focus on ranking, grading and weakness if we truly want kids to thrive and try new things.
  • We need to send the message to kids that they shouldn’t just avoid doing negative things online but build up their online reputation that is positive and awesome. What happens when schools are looking for the negative and find all this positive information about the kids?

Notable Quotables:

  • “We need to ask ourselves; how do we ensure that our children have every opportunity in the world—not just the same opportunities that we had when we were kids? There are so many more today!”
  • “How are we supposed to move our schools forward if we are not looking at what other people in the world are doing?”
  • “Someone once said; ‘we expect innovation in every organization except for the one we work in.’ We expect the iPhone to be so much further developed from it’s original iteration 10 years ago, yet we are very comfortable in education doing practices we did 50 years ago.”
  • “We want teachers and administrators to see themselves as innovators. That doesn’t mean that everything we do needs to be new and awesome. We need to look at what works for kids! If there is something we did 30 years ago that still works for our students, we encourage our teachers to do it. But some teachers actually hold on to practices that they are comfortable with even if they see they don’t work.”
  • “We are asking our students to become innovators while they are spending years and years of their time with people who may be doing the same thing that they’ve been doing 20 years ago.” *
  • “We can’t say to teachers and administrators; ‘think outside the box.’ We all work in a box. You have curriculum, testing and budget constraints—and those are not going away anytime soon! So how do you create something amazing within the box?”
  • “With teachers, we don’t want them to revamp their entire philosophy over night. But just start with one thing and see what happens. When one thing changes, then another thing changes and the entire classroom can then be focused on what the students need rather than on what’s most comfortable.”
  • “Quit saying to kids, ‘we’re developing the leaders of tomorrow’ because subtly you say to them, ‘you can’t actually make an impact on our world until you leave. If you want to develop kids as leaders, the best way to do it is to get them doing that right now.”
  • “We have to understand what the kids are passionate about not push our passions onto the kids.”
  • “Sometimes kids are going to have to do things they don’t like but it’s much easier when kids know you value them. Kids are often checking out of school early because they feel like nobody cares what they like, what they want and aspire to be. Many kids don’t know what they want to do because it’s always been about what the adults have wanted, not what helps these kids follow and develop their dreams. We need to tap into, not ‘here’s something I want you to solve,’ but what is something important to you and let’s start from there.’”
  • “Some of your most brilliant students are terrible academically. If you look for their brilliance, you’ll find it.” **
  • “Kids will work harder than they have ever done when they are actually passionate about it.”
  • “Kids say; ‘this is super unfair. We’re under a microscope and you could get away with anything when you were younger.’ It’s not fair but kids have way more opportunity that we ever did. We need to ask them; “What are you going to focus on? Are you going to focus on how fair it is or on the opportunities that lie ahead?”
  • “Our focus needs to be; ‘how can we ensure our kids are safe while ensuring they have every opportunity to be successful in this world?”