Sarah’s Diary Episode Sixteen

Jenny decided to spend some time in class to discuss to contrast of what constitutes creativity, innovation, and inventiveness. While there was no general agreement on the contrasts, she thought she could help students appreciate the differences.

“I’ve noticed that you use the terms creative and innovative almost as if they were the same thing. Help me explore the difference. We generally think of artists as being creative. But what distinguishes an artist who is also innovative?”

The students struggled to think of the differences. “Pablo Picasso would be considered an innovative artist for his development of new forms of artistic expression. There are many other artists that followed his innovative thinking who were very talented and creative.”  This explanation seemed to help.

Louis Pasteur changed the face of medicine with his practical understanding of how germ theory could be used. This was the innovative breakthrough that then led to other creative scientific discoveries.

One way that might help you understand the contrast between innovators and creators is that innovators are the shoulders that creators stand on.

“Earlier this semester, I asked you to rank the Malcomb children for their innovative potential. From what you have seen in Sarah’s diary, Hiram and Mable have made an effort to developing children with special talents. Will they become creators, innovators, or will they contribute in other ways?”

“In our next class, the diary entry will concern the last of the siblings. I’m going to ask you to re-rank the siblings for their potential as innovators. This will not be easy because every one of you has the potential to be an innovation just as is the case with the Malcomb children. That’s the joy and challenge of teaching: helping young people find their place in the world.”

“Something that I’ve observed about innovators is that you would be challenged to envision what they became as adults in their formative years. Let me share with you a story that describes this transformation.”

 It was a magnificent slate of marble and it promised to yield a statue that would be spectacular. But two sculptors gave up on the project. The flaws inside the slab made it unusable. The slab remained untouched in a courtyard for 25 years.

A 26-year –old accepted the challenge to do something with the marble slab. He spent 2 years on the project. He rarely slept or ate for the two years. He insisted that no one observe his work.

When he unveiled his work, his sponsors realized that what was before them was possibly the finest statue ever created. In fact, Michelangelo’s David is still considered the finest statue of all time after 500 years since it was created.

“It’s ironic that when we imagine the potential of individuals, we tend to give up our faith in them as others did with that slab of marble. The marble slab that led to the greatest statue of all time was put aside for 25 years.”

“Potential often takes the influence of a mentor to be realized. Patience is also needed. Progress is often not steady. But there will come a time when the potential that was always there is revealed.”

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“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential – there are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”– Confucius

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Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.