The Innovator’s Mindset: Relentless Restlessness

The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity
By George Couros
(Dave Burgess Consulting, 2015 – Learn more)

Reviewed by Laura Von Staden

You’ve heard of innovation, and you’ve heard of mindset, but what is an Innovator’s Mindset? And how is that different? George Couros has given us his manifesto on how we can change education, not with a set of step-by-step instructions, but by changing our mindsets about what it means to educate.

Why an innovative mindset is essential

An innovator’s mindset, according to Couros, is a way of thinking about ourselves and our students, and his reason for writing this book is to develop schools that embrace innovation as a way of thinking and approaching learning. He asks us to imagine what if . . . what if we promoted risk taking; what if everyone (teachers, students, administration) was encouraged to follow their dreams; what if everyone in school was a learner?

What if we worked from a strengths model rather than a deficit model? What if connection was a primary focus of education, and we empowered students to make a difference in their world?

This book is filled with compelling ideas and reasons to change our mindset, because as Couros puts it, “change is an opportunity to do something amazing.” He further suggests that failure to do amazing things could well leave our educational system on a dead end path similar to video renter Blockbuster, where we are preparing our students for an industrial world that largely does not exist anymore, at least not in the way it did in decades past.

What you will find

In the four parts of this book, Innovation in Education, Laying the Groundwork, Unleashing Talent, and Concluding Thoughts, Couros gives us eight characteristics of an innovator’s mindset (p. 48), the differences between school and learning (p. 103), the eight things to look for in the classroom to determine if it is innovative (chapter 7), the roles and approaches our school-based leaders need to have to create a culture of innovation in our schools, and the eight things to look for in professional learning to promote an innovative mindset.

Each chapter starts with and contains thought-provoking quotes and ends with a series of questions for discussion and reflection to help us process the ideas presented and decide what actions we will take as a result.

In the last section of the book, Couros quotes Dylan William saying, “If we create a culture where every teacher believes they need to improve, not because they are not good enough but because they can be even better, there is no limit to what we can achieve.” Couros calls this “relentless restlessness” and encourages us to grow such a culture, concluding by saying “being a teacher is not a superpower, the way we teach is. It’s the mindset you bring into the classroom and to your school that can help change the world.” And isn’t that why most of us got into this profession, to change lives, and thus the world?

Do something amazing

If you are looking for a book to give you step-by-step instructions or the latest strategy to raise test scores, this is not the book. But if you think education needs to change and that we need to rethink and revitalize the way we teach, then you will find many truths in the pages of The Innovator’s Mindset and will be inspired to “do something amazing” yourself.

Dr. Laura Von Staden is a Middle School Special Education specialist in Tampa, Florida. She serves on numerous committees both at her school and within her district and works closely with the local university where she is a Professional Practice Partner and master mentor. Dr. Von Staden also facilitates both online and face-to-face Professional Development and writes curriculum for her school district. She is working toward her second doctorate, this one an EdD in Program Innovation and Development.

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