I don’t want young people that can solve a psedo-problem—a fake problem generated by their teacher. I want young people that can go out into the world and find problems that really need solving, and have the capacity to go and start solving them with their peers.

I used to think a good example of divergent thinking by a student would be answering a four option multiple choice question by adding a fifth bubble, filling it in, and explaining why none of the given answers are satisfactory.

Now, this WOULD be a good example of a student being clever (and a bit of a smartass), and an interesting opportunity for a teacher to roll with the punches and have a conversation with the student rather than resorting to disciplinary action.

However, I’m now convinced that innovative thinking would look more like a student folding a multiple choice test into a hat and wondering if paper could be recycled into clothes.

What I’m getting at is this: creativity is disruptive, unruly, and nearly incompatible with ridged lesson plans—so far from being encouraged in school, it’s frequently actively discouraged. Outside the box thinking may be a quality that’s both sought after by employers and important for everyday life, but in the classroom students’ abilities are measured by how closely they follow directions. And this valuation disconnect means that straight A students can easily go on to solve explicitly defined problems, but have a much harder time identifying problems in the first place.

And that’s a major bummer, because according to teacher and digital media guru Ewan McIntosh, problem FINDERS are exactly what the world needs right now. Watch his 8 minute TEDx London talk to get a better idea of what this means for the future of our workforce, county, and world:

Visit Ewan’s blog at edu.blogs.com