Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Where good ideas come from



My two favorite quotes from Steven Johnson's book The Invention of Air are:
"Create enough caffeine-abusers in your society and you’ll be statistically more likely to launch an Age of Reason."
And, more relevant to our work,
"most important ideas enter the pantheon because they circulate. And the flow is two-way: the ideas happen in the first place because they are triggered by other people’s ideas. The whole notion of intellectual circulation or flow is embedded in the word “influence” itself (“to flow into,” influere in the original Latin). Good ideas influence, and are themselves influenced by, other ideas. They flow into each other.
This reminds me of Rushton Hurley's idea at SLATE, that "isolation is the cancer of education in the US."

Good ideas don't pop out of a vacuum. They happen when dedicated, energetic (and caffeinated!) minds interact. I was reminded of this again when talking with a group of teachers the other day, and they described how they felt excited and alive when talking with each other about their ideas for personalizing learning with their students. We need to continue these conversations in order to generate more good ideas!

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Keep it clean and on-topic, folks. Or if not on topic, make it visionary and inspiring. Or at least entertaining. Funny gets you bonus points.