Creative and practical, two key features in innovation. It takes a certain degree of loose thinking to be able to bend known rules into something of value. People generally stick to what they know, making use of something they've at least seen before. Innovation is about taking something already out there, changing it just enough, and making the object more valuable for doing so. This requires an ability to see the world in intelligent and methodical ways as well as having the ability to adjust the way we usually look at an object to make it fit for a new purpose.
We like to teach people the facts, school work is usually laden with information about dates, concepts, and formulae. This is good information however the mind is much more creative than that. Innovative thinking requires creative thought. It's been shown in many studies that musical education actually helps our brains develop faster when we're children. So when we stop growing, our minds have been built on great foundations if we've had an education that involves creativity. When we have grown up our minds still develop, we still learn and our brain can change a lot over the years, however when it's growing that's when the most benefit can be found.
When something is new, we generally have anxiety towards it. Stranger danger or neophobia reaches deep into us, we can call it approach anxiety or fear of change however the basic fact is that people in general don't like something much unless they know it first. So being completely new is not the best way to innovate, unless it happens to do something extra-ordinary and exciting. Generally the best innovations draw on what we already have. Like the electric tin opener, for example. For a person who opens a lot of tins, it's a wonderful invention. It makes the job of opening tins easy. Think of chefs in catering facilities like hospitals and prisons, where the food is normally in tins and packets. When I worked in the kitchen of a football ground, there were a lot of tins to open. The big catering sized ones. Electric tools make light work of feeding the five thousand.
Yet, if an innovation is too much like its previous counterpart, then we don't see why we should change our behaviour. The best innovations do a new job entirely. Look at the laser, for another example. Lasers were originally used in science experiments, they allowed us to study light and to take measurements at incredibly small scales. However, light shows and DVD players were not far behind. Making use of the tool for another job entirely enabled a whole new family tree of technology from one small device. The laser, in all its applications, has changed the world. Only with the right innovation did this happen.
Once something has been shown to increase value to society as a whole, and it's doing something we already know about, we generally adapt pretty quickly. We adopt the new technology as if we've always had it, and in one sense for many things, we have. It's just the way it's being used that has changed. So the invention of electricity or the microchip did something new for us, but these were based on previous technology. Magnets and transistors came first and metals before them.
So it's worth remembering that when we educate children, if we want them to become really great adults, it's important to not forget about creativity. Learning about music and the arts helps people of all ages to think outside their boxes and change the way they look at the world around them. By teaching humanitarian subjects and the arts, we bring out even more of the good side of our nature. Of course, by reading Alternative Fruit, you're already onto a great start!
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