I watched the author, Tony Wagner, speak at an education conference this past spring. This is what he had to say about schools and creativity (From 7 Innovators Views on Education at Skillshare's Penny Conference):
"Teaching used to be about knowledge and scarcity. Teachers had knowledge they needed to impart to students. Now that knowledge is free, we don't need that anymore. It isn't important what you know, it is important what you can do with what you know.
Routine jobs are being outsourced. The set of skills needed now are critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, agility, initiative, effective oral and written communication and the ability to analyze information. Is that what schools are teaching? We need to re-position from a consumer economy to an innovative economy.
The culture of school is radically at odds with the culture of learning:
- School is all about individual GPA. It should be about teamwork
- School is about specialization. Innovation needs to cross discipline boundaries.
- School is highly risk adverse. Innovation requires fail early and fail often.
- Learning is a profoundly passive experience in most schools. That is why we are good consumers but not innovators.
- We rely on extrinsic motivators where intrinsic are much more important"
What can parents do to help create innovators? (book excerpts):
- Encourage Play - "Research shows that human beings are born with an innate desire to explore, experiment, and imagine new possibilities -- to innovate. How do children learn such skills? In a word -- through play. Play, then, is part of our human nature and an intrinsic motivation."
- Encourage Passion - "In more than one hundred and fifty interviews for this book -- lengthy conversations with innovators and their parents, teachers, and mentors -- passion was the most frequently recurring word."
- Encourage Purpose - "In the lives of young innovators whom I interviewed, I discovered a consistent link and developmental arc in their progression from play to passion to purpose. They played a great deal -- but their play was frequently far less structured than most children's, and they had opportunities to explore, experiment, and discover through trial and error -- to take risks and to fall down. Through this kind of more creative play as children, these young innovators discovered a passion. As they pursued their passions, their interests changed and took surprising turns. They developed new passions, which, over time, evolved into a deeper and more mature sense of purpose."
The most forward-thinking institutions (education or workplace) that are creating innovators, do so by encouraging collaboration, interdisciplinary problem-solving and intrinsic motivations. I highly recommend Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World to everyone, parent or not. Innovation is something we are desperately in need of and everyone can play a part.