Why does innovative thinking matter now more than ever?

Author: Selin — Grade 9

In this post, we would like to share Selin’s On Wednesdays We Wonder Talk with you. Thank you for helping us reconnect with our inner sources, Selin.

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Hi, everyone.

It’s really nice to see you and thank you for coming to listen to me. I have wanted to come and talk at OWWW for a while and this is my first time here. I wanted to talk about something I have been kind of thinking about and observing in the back of my mind for a few months now. Those of you who already know me probably know that I’m really interested in areas like the climate crisis and social issues and that it’s something that I frequently think about. And throughout my journey I get to get familiar with a lot of new perspectives on things I have looked at a bit differently before, in the context of social change; for example this summer the term “unlearning” was something that I thought about and started to internalize a lot. At first my understanding was mostly about how we should work to unlearn things like the prejudices and bias’ that we develop as we continue our lives and how that was probably one of the most important steps of living in a better world. Soon I realized that the term, while it does include what I said before, actually means much more than I first imagined.

Suddenly I started realizing that everywhere I went and everyone I talked to, including me, people were trying to follow formulas. In the society that we live in, we are taught and expected to follow certain paths that have been defined before us, and we slowly start thinking that if we do not follow certain paths in our lives we will fail miserably. And maybe to a certain extent that is a valid concern, because in this economy and state of the world most people do not have the access or privilege to break out of this cycle as their main goal is to sustain themselves and their families. We are always told to follow examples that come before us, in almost every aspect of our lives, and after a time we start to internalize and get used to this way of thinking. We get used to there being an example to follow at an assignment we have to do, we get used to following outlines and guidelines, we get used to knowing what we are “supposed” to do and being able to get guidance on our way there because our experiences are not necessarily new. Solve 200 paragraph tests a day, get ready to the exam by working really hard, get into a university and then find yourself a stable career because you do not want to be broke or something in the future is what we hear from people around us. There is an incredibly specific mainstream understanding of what success means. Do things the way they were done before but make it shinier, do the same things that people in your position encourage you to do. We get so incredibly caught up in this sort of mindset that we do not have time to think about the possibility that there are different options that may not even exist yet. I understand this and I partake in this, because isn’t it comfortable when you believe that there are people that have shown something is possible before, and there are people that have shown how exactly to do something already. Everyone is simply trying to find their place in this world and be content with themselves.

But what if there is no way something is “supposed” to be? What if there is no example to follow, no standard? What if we are left to to figure things out for the first time? Isn’t that just terrifying?

The education system and the system as a whole in the world is a catastrophe. It makes us get used to the idea of following the idea of “standard”,(standardized testing is a really ironic name to me) and as humanity we will face the consequences soon enough.

I recently realized that this is not a luxury we have anymore. We live in a rapidly changing world.Things have never changed faster than this before. More and more global crisis are forming and nearing their breaking point as we keep affecting them and they keep affecting each other. Even though we know this, I don’t think we have realized the true extent of how serious things are. This is not working anymore. Maybe a few years ago we had time to adapt our society slowly and fix this, but time is not a luxury we have anymore. As we are trying to build a future together that is not a portrait of human destruction, we need to fundamentally change the way we think and do things, because for the first time in a really long while we do not have stability and clear guidance for the world that is to come because it will be a completely different world. It feels safe to think that we can have the idea of clear plans when the future is more unpredictable than ever, and it’s really hard to break that mindset. Things can not keep being the same way, and they shouldn’t be, but this requires for us to unlearn and reconstruct, our entire understandings of how things work. We will have to be the ones to do something for the first time, we will have to think and create entirely new and different. We will need to be innovative. We will have to learn to take risks. We will have to change everything starting from the way we see things because we have to adapt to the changing world. We can’t wait for someone else to lead the way because we do not have the luxury of waiting for someone anymore. There will not be one hero suddenly appearing and fixing things, because everyone will have to take their part in something this huge. Anything that we can’t predict is uncomfortable but the new reality is that no one knows what is going to happen anymore. It all depends on whether we choose to take some time and realize what is going on because it is us who needs to lead the way. Mistakes are not something that we are told to accept right now, (hence the whole idea of screw up night), but as we are navigating the new world we will need to come to terms with the fact that we are bound to make mistakes. We can’t keep thinking the same way, the way that caused all of this to happen in the first place, and I want to encourage everyone including myself to stop, think and realize; and ultimately unlearn to create our worlds anew. I want to end this with a quote I think about a lot;

“If not now, then when?If not us, then who?”

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Robert College Social Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Creativity Office

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Robert College Social Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Creativity Office