...really good teaching is about not seeing the world the way that everyone else does...

"Good teachers perceive the world in alternative terms, and they push their students to test out these new, potentially enriching perspectives. Sometimes they do so in ways that are, to say the least, peculiar."
Mark Edmundson, "Geek Lessons" NYT, 2008

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Reinventing Innovation

Published: April 5, 2009

LONDON — Some words just wear themselves out. They are used — or misused — so often that they lose their meaning. “Design” is one, “creative” is another, and if I see “contemporary” used to describe one more stick of furniture that looks as if it has been sequestrated from a 1980s porn palace, I will scream.

When the gDiaper, which consists of a biodegradable insert worn inside a pair of underpants, is soiled, you can flush it down the toilet. If it is only wet, you can compost it and it will decompose within a few months.
A recent recruit to the endangered list is “innovation.” Once hailed as a panacea, it has been so diminished by hyperbole that it risks seeming irrelevant. (“Transformation” is the fashionable favorite to replace it.) Yet just like “design” and “contemporary,” “innovation” is losing credibility as a word at the very time when it is needed most urgently.

As the economic and environmental crises deepen, there is a growing recognition that many aspects of our lives need to be reinvented. Politicians routinely call for the “redesign” of society, and urge businesses to “innovate” their way out of recession. This readiness to embrace change — even radical change — coupled with advances in science and technology, is unleashing a stream of innovations. Here are some of the most exciting ones.


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