iDiploma: It’s about VERBS!

We launched our Innovation Diploma at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Upper School! Here’s the speech I shared, and the slides to accompany:

One of the reasons we’re here today is to honor these students who have taken a risk, and chosen themselves to do something awesome. Which is definitely worth the early morning, schedule reshuffling many of us did in order to be here. So thank you for that. But why are we HERE? In this space?

Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works,  shared in a talk last year an incredible truth: “Every child is born an artist. The problems begin once we start to grow up…eventually kids start to “conclude that they are not creative, and this is in large part because they start to realize that that their drawing is not quite as pretty as they would like, that they can put the brush in the wrong place, that their short stories don’t live up to their expectations—so they become self-conscious and self-aware, and then they shut themselves down.”

Do you consider yourself creative?

Ask this question of a group of Kindergarteners, and about 100 percent of them will answer “Yes.” But as time goes on, this percentage decreases. So we are here today to recapture some of that messiness, that free-spirited, creative confidence that we left back in kindergarten. Because it’s there. Robert Fulghum implies with the title of his book, All I Really Know I learned in Kindergarten, that there’s something broken in how we “school out” the creativity and imagination that is inherent within us all. I couldn’t agree more with his belief “that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”

He’s talking about the art of the possible here. I call it the possible because in Kindergarten, let’s be honest, there is no impossible.

That’s how I think of the Innovation Diploma. The innovation diploma experience is unparalleled in that it offers each of you something different; anything is possible. I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not prescriptive content or structure that you will travel through checking off the boxes along the way. It’s not another class. It’s not something new to learn or memorize. It’s not about a curriculum. It’s not even about teaching you to be innovative. It’s about creating habits. Habits that will help each of us tap back into our innate curiosities that we haven’t had time to explore, since, maybe, Kindergarten.

It’s about VERBS…

Creating.

Doing.

Dreaming.

Wondering.

Failing.

Questioning.

Networking.

Searching.

Building.

Trailblazing.

Pioneering.

It’s about a lot of things, too many to list, and many I haven’t yet even thought of yet. With your help, we’re about to rewrite the script for learning. Stealing back creativity. Making a difference in the world. Finding our passions. Loving to learn and DO. And, wow, I CANNOT wait!

Let’s be kindergarteners again, because, let me tell you, they have FUN. Let’s build castles and forts, draw silly pictures, play with our friends, and have recess again.

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