Sarah’s Diary Episode Seventeen

Jenny was excited for today’s class because the diary would focus on the last of the siblings. This diary entry would also reinforce the contrasts between being innovative and being creative. Jacob, the featured sibling in this diary entry, was also quite different from the other siblings.

“I want to share with you a diary entry for Jacob. We haven’t heard much about him. But before I do that, I have a couple of update diary entries. The first is from March 3, 1889.”

“Mary won in Elkins. Now she will go to the state debate championship in Charleston.”

“And now a diary entry from April 8, 1889.”

“Our teacher liked Harriett’s idea of a seed library. Now each of us kids needs to convince our friends to collect seeds. Teacher says we need to learn how to be persuasive.”

“Finally let me read the diary entry featuring Jacob.”

“Jacob is sure lazy. His chore is to split wood, and he hates it. Dad has to always push him to get to work. Jacob came up with an idea for a device that combines four axe heads into one so that when he swings it at a log it splits the log into four pieces instead of just two. Maybe being lazy isn’t that bad.”

After reading the entry, Jenny asked the class: “I’ve studied the spark that leads to new ideas. Generally we think of those sparks as being purposeful, solving a problem that exists. But how much of the ideas were stimulated by other traits such as laziness?”

That question sparked an outburst from one of her students: “I don’t know if you would consider me lazy, but I get frustrated when things don’t work as well as they should. I’m always coming up with new ideas to make things better.”

“Great point,” commented Jenny. “Just think of your kitchen appliances. Every one of them resulted from a frustration. And much of corporate America is always coming up with more efficient ways to do things to reduce costs. The assembly line was one of the most innovative ideas of its time, and it allowed average citizens to enjoy what only the elite could buy just a few years earlier.”

“Now I’d like you to contrast being inventive from being innovative. Was Jacob’s idea innovative? And what about the assembly line?

“Innovation changes society while inventive/creative ideas are useful or insightful, but they don’t present a breakthrough for the way we live, work, and think.”

“Now I’d like you to re-rank the children based on what you know about them now. Who has the most innovative potential?”

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“To have arrived on this earth as a product of a biological accident, only to depart through human arrogance, would be the ultimate story.”– Richard Leakey (conservationist)

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