Spaces of Invention Short Presentation: David Narum


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    1. We all have our own space of invention—our brains. During millions of years of evolution as a species, it was our growing brains that were the sole source of our myriad inventions.
    2. When we invent we connect things—neurons, objects, disciplines—maybe a stick and something to cook. We learn to connect things by doing and by observation.
    3. As we evolved as a species—doing, observing, borrowing from other cultures—we learned to make better connections and better inventions. We learned to adapt.
    4. Dramatic climate swings over millions of years furthered our brain development and adaptive ability. We learned to live in a frozen tundra, and how to survive a D.C. summer.
    5. Our adaptability comes from our ability to invent—to diversify our options. Our ultimate success as a species may rest, simply, on how good we are at keeping our options open.
    6. Even so, as Stephen J. Gould notes, we live in “a society driven, often unconsciously, to impose a uniform mediocrity upon a former richness of excellences.”
    7. Today, uniform, structured learning spaces and disciplines are literally and figuratively boxing learners in, restricting choice and muting our natural creativity.
    8. Standardization, questions with only right or wrong answers, the stigmatization of failure—these all reduce learners’ creative and daring thinking and their ability to envision new options.
    9. Recently I heard someone ask: “who will create the next billion-dollar invention?” But perhaps we need to ask: how do we create the next billion inventions? the next billion inventors?
    10. One way is to create unstandardized learning spaces. Spaces ripe for connection-making. Uniform spaces that are also chaotic. Spaces that combine structure and improvisation.
    11. Spaces that foster autobiographical thinking through models, demonstrations, practice and reflection. Spaces where learners imagine their future—as a police officer, or inventor—or both!
    12. Spaces full of opportunities for learners to see themselves differently—spaces that enhance their inventor identities and build “agency”—the self-belief critical for becoming an inventor.
    13. Spaces that help young inventors take the uniform roles that are often imposed on them and restory them as part of the larger, million-years-running human invention story.
    14. And today, the internet, quite a human invention, can foster connections that allow for doing, observing, borrowing, restorying and inventing on a global scale.
    15. We know enough now to invent better learning spaces—spaces where learners can envision and invent the options we need. In such spaces we will undoubtedly find a richness of excellences.
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  • The most important space of invention is the one between the ears. The brain grew in size and developed more complex, networked structures over millions of years/
  • Inventing involves making connections—between neurons, among diverse disciplines, with peers, with physical objects and the natural world, and with other inventors around the world, including Zog. Learning by doing and observation.
  • With increasing brain size, observation and association, early humans made new neural connections, creating inventions to solve problems and adapt to changing conditions.
  • The origin of stone tools, the expansion of the brain, and the complexity of social life that we see with the emergence of humansmay be a response not to just the dry savanna or the cold Ice Age but to the wide and dramatic variability of climate over time.
  • A part of the adaptability of our species as it has evolved is ourability to diversify our options. We have different cultures. We're characterized by cultural diversity in a way that no previous early human had been. This may be our ultimate key to success—keeping our options open.
  • Stephen Jay Gould wrote that we live “in a society driven, often unconsciously, to impose a uniform mediocrity upon a former richness of excellences.” We have imposed such uniformity on our schools and our world. This may not help us in a time when we really need to keep our options open!
  • With confined spaces and subjects, traditional classrooms box learners in, physically and intellectually. The standard tools of evaluation, reward and competition all restrict choice and creativity. No drawing outside the lines in this class!
  • Siloed and standardized disciplines, single “correct” answers, emphasis on one type of success and avoiding failure—this is designed to reduce the ability to think creatively and adaptively.
  • A few weeks ago someone on NPR noted the urgent need for someone to create the next billion-dollar invention. Another approach, I thought, could be to create a billion inventions, starting in K12..
  • Spaces for K-12 inventors need to be safe, secure, cue-rich, full of choices, connected, and open. They need to provide a level of stimulation for learners to engage both their subject matter- and creativity-relevant skills, combining structured lessons with improvisational activities.
  • Autobiographical thinking and personal narrative development begins at a young age. Learners need can observe real people demonstrating real situations. This helps them to imagine their own future as an inventor, or maybe a police officer!
  • Providing a young inventor with the psychological safety they need to let their minds wander, make associations, try a solution and work through failures and develop their inventor identity helps to build “agency”—the self-belief critical to an inventor’s mind. This can happen right here at the Spark Lab!
  • We need learners to see how their story fits into the large human story of invention dating back millions of years. Developinga sense of themselves as inventors can helpchallengeand restory the often conflicting scripts and roles learners encounter in school.
  • The pace of invention is dramatically increasing as we share concepts and designs with just a click of the mouse. K-12 learners can talk to a professor in California or a fellow learner in Calcutta. If good ideas come from what’s around—there is a lot more around to work with—thanks to an invention!
  • With our ability to communicate, to use our big brains to make associations and analogies, and our access to ideas and information, we have a magical power to turn our imaginations into reality. Zog and his ilk were likely not the first, and we not the last, to invent the future.
  • Spaces of Invention Short Presentation: David Narum

    1. 1. A Richness of Excellences David Narum
    2. 2. The space of invention.
    3. 3. Learning by doing and observation.Gary Larson, 1981
    4. 4. Makingconnections.
    5. 5. Peter Pavlik, 2000 Climate. Adaptability. Invention.wikipedia
    6. 6.
    7. 7.“ . . . a society driven, often unconsciously, toimpose a uniform mediocrity upon a formerrichness of excellences.” —Stephen Jay Gould
    8. 8. Thinking inside the box.
    9. 9. Standardization.
    10. 10. A Billion $ InventionS
    11. 11. Structure. Improv.
    12. 12. Model. Demonstrate. Practice. Reflect.
    13. 13. Lemelson CenterIdentity. Agency. Creativity.
    14. 14. Story.Restory.
    15. 15. gardnernews.comThe richness of excellences.
    16. 16. David Narum, Ph.D.• Learning Spaces Collaboratory/ Greenway Partners• 707-497-8638•• Consultant, professor; researcher in creativity, innovation, learning and learning spaces.