What is an original idea? Who has original ideas, really?

The definition of the adjective, original, is “belonging or pertaining to the origin; the beginning of something.” (dictionary.com) Synonyms include new, novel, fresh, and inventive.  I’m sad to say that I don’t have an original idea in my head. When I looked at the webpage again, there were a few more definitions, including: “arising or proceeding independently of anything else” and “capable of or given to thinking or acting in an independent, creative, or individual manner.” Still not feeling better, people! One more look: “created, undertaken, or presented for the first time.” There. Here on my blog, an original post — presented for the first time? Ah…nope. Not doing it for me.

Teachers are thieves. It’s a researched fact. We steal from each other all the time. Ideas, topics, “mentor texts…” yes, it’s all stealing. As I was thinking about writing something original today, I remembered that I heard that phrase often: “Teachers are thieves.” I feel badly, but why? “If everyone else is doing it…” (no, I don’t want to jump off a cliff, Mom.)  I really just want to be original, just once.

Many times, students have trouble writing because they feel like I do now. They don’t know what to say, or how to say it in a way that makes the topic original. What do we do? We tell them, “It’s ok.”  We show them mentor texts, we have them read more, and we have them keep on writing. The action of putting the pencil to the paper is what teachers are really looking for. We want to see evidence of thinking, and that students are willing to write what they think. They produce, then, their own, original ideas.

I read an interesting post on http://www.ted.com (TED talks!) about “What according to you is an original idea?” (www.ted.com…2011). Reading the comments section, the replies made me feel better about this “originality” problem. I don’t have to come up with the idea, but I have to DO something new and different with it.  I asked myself, “What do I want to DO?” Well, I want to write a SOL post right now, that’s what I want. And I want it to be original.

So here’s my first ever — original — post on originality. Or is it? Have I written this before?

Let me check.

(While I’m doing that, you have a great week!)