The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros A book review by Joel Bevans


The Innovator's Mindset is a call to arms for teachers across the world. George Couros has created a book that encourages teachers, administrators and schools to empower learning, unleash talents and lead a culture of creativity.

Couros explains that children enter our schools full of a sense of wonder and awe. It is our responsibility to respond to children's natural curiosity by responding to their needs and giving them opportunities to practice key skills that they will need in their lifetime.

The book talks of changing education and explains that it is our role, as educators, to encourage critical thinking, innovation, and to inspire creativity.

The innovators mindset is defined by George Couros as "The belief that abilities, intelligence,and talents are developed leading to the creation of better ideas. "

8 characteristics of the innovators mindest

Couros talks about educators setting up classrooms and schools so that children can be a creative and innovative. To do this they need certain skills. It is our role to work with our students so they can have an innovators mindset.

  • Empathetic
  • Problem finders - start with a question finish with an answer
  • Risk-takers - take a new path
  • Networked
  • Observant
  • Creators -Idea +Action=Fruition
  • Resilient
  • Refelctive

School vs Learning

In the book Couros talks about the difference between School and learning. For The Innovators Mindset to be successful educators need to make a shift from school to learning.

  • School promotes looking for answers
  • School is about consuming
  • School teaches compliance
  • School often isolates
  • School is scheduled at certain times
  • School is standardised
  • School teaches us to obtain information from certain people.
  • Learning promotes starting with questions
  • Learning is about creating
  • Learning is about challenging perceived norms
  • Learning can happen any time, all of the time
  • Learning is deep
  • Learning is about making your own connections
  • Learning is about exploring your own passions and interests

Learner Focussed

Classrooms need to be learner focused to help foster creativity and innovation. Couros talks of 8 things to look for in today's classrooms.

  1. Voice -students should learn from others and then share their learning.
  2. Choice- Students need to have choice in what and how they are learning
  3. Time for reflection - everyone should write and reflect on what is being learned
  4. Opportunities for Innovation -Plan for and allow to creativity and innovation
  5. Critical thinking - encourage questions and challenging the norm
  6. Problem solvers/Finders - give tough challenges and encourage children to find creative solutions
  7. Self Assessment -Important that students know how to self-assess. Use portfolios to help with this
  8. Connected learning -make connections with the real world. Use social media, video conferencing, real life sitautaions

Key Quotes

All quotes taken directly from The Innovators Mindset by George Couros

“Right now we have many twenty-first-century schools with twentieth-century learning.”
“If we want to do better things for students, we have to become the guinea pigs and immerse ourselves in new learning opportunities to understand how to create the necessary changes. We rarely create something different until we experience something different.”
“Individualizing education and starting with empathy for those we serve is where innovative teaching and learning begins.”
“Compliance does not foster innovation.”
“This is your opportunity to design schools that value creation over compliance and making over memorizing."
“Our job, sometimes, is simply to be the spark, help build confidence, and then get out of the way. If innovation in any school or school division is solely dependent upon one person, it will continue to happen in pockets. In contrast, when we focus on empowering learners to become leaders, they help spread ideas.”
“The strange and beautiful truth about the adjacent possible is that its boundaries grow as you explore them. Each new combination opens up the possibility of other new combinations. Think of it as a house that magically expands with each door you open. You begin in a room with four doors, each leading to a new room that you haven’t visited yet. Once you open one of those doors and stroll into that room, three new doors appear, each leading to a brand-new room that you couldn’t have reached from your original starting point. Keep opening new doors and eventually you’ll have built a palace.”
“School should not be a place where answers go to die but questions come to life.
“The ability to innovate—to create something new and better—is a skill that organizations worldwide are looking for today.


"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader." John Quincy Adams

What do we want our schools to be like now and in the future? The Innovator's Mindset offers an opportunity to help foster creativity in schools. What can you do to help?

A short video created by Joel Bevans about the Innovators Mindset


Created with images by TeroVesalainen - "idea innovation imagination" • Hampton Roads Partnership - "Innovation chalkboard" • dassel - "art glow eindhoven" • Unsplash - "lightbulb light bulb" • qimono - "lightbulb bulb light" • Hampton Roads Partnership - "Exploration-Innovation" • edenpictures - "Create" • Ramdlon - "creative be creative write"

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