Learning Before You Innovate

The emphasis on “creation” in schools is crucial, yet it does not mean that consumption is not crucial in the process.  Several years ago, I saw John Medina speak (the author of “Brain Rules“), and he said something that resonated with me (paraphrased):

Creation without consumption is similar to playing the air guitar.  You might be able to go through the motions, but you do not really know what you are doing.

That is why the ability to learn is so crucial to innovation.  It is not about just learning information, but what you do with it that is mattering more in our world today, but if we are not willing to learn in the first place, the innovation will not happen.

A beautiful song that you compose on the piano, could not be composed if you don’t learn to play the piano first.

This thinking is beautifully illustrated in an older visual from Alberta Education, called the “Alberta Competency Wheel”.

Alberta Education Competency Wheel

In the middle is the learner, but without the crucial foundation of literacy and numeracy, we lose a lot moving outward from the centre.

That being said, we still need to move from the centre. Of course we want every student to be able to read and write, but it is essential they go further.  Yong Zhao sums this up nicely.


The “basics” and “innovation” are connected; it is not one or the other.

“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.” Friedrich Nietzsche


  1. Daniel said:

    Es una propuesta interesante estoy experimentando con un alumno sobre la creación de una app que de forma y respuesta a los servicios admtvos y académicos de las escuelas y no encontraba el fundamento mercantil de la propuesta

    April 26, 2016

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