Schools aren’t teaching innovation? Parents to the Rescue

In part of this interview, Godin asserts that our school system is designed to develop factory workers and that we should be angry about this.  How do we change schools? Or should we even try? It’s awfully hard to change institutions. You can make your best shot, but maybe it’s better to take on the challenge of building more innovative minds on a smaller scale.

I think there are things that parents can do outside of school and at home to help model innovative and collaborative behavior to their children.

1.) Try learning new things. Make taking a class or even a workshop part of your family activities. I remember my mother actually taking cooking classes, macrame, even public speaking. Both my brother and I were often dropped off at the community center to take a crafting or nature class during the summer months. We often looked forward to doing this.

2.) If you’re failing at household tasks… point it out.  Not everyone is Martha Stewart perfect at the things they do. You don’t have to engage in huge creative projects.  Build a small pond, arrange your picture frames, experiment with colors when you knit a mitten.  If it doesn’t work out… it’s okay. I meet so many adults who are so afraid of doing things wrong they get so wrapped up in making things perfect. They’re not really paying attention to what they’re doing along the way or how they got there. This neurotic compunction to make things look just right seems like excessive self-flagellation to me. Modeling this neurosis for our children can stunt their willingness to experiment or try new things.

3.) Tinker, tinker, tinker. My father-in-law owns a machine shop so it isn’t surprising that he found a way to make his car run with propane during the Oil Crisis in the 70’s. It’s also not surprising that he now has two sons who aren’t afraid to creatively solve design problems or develop tools or products. My husband eschewed the customary IKEA setups when designing our kitchen and instead designed a the layout in 3D in Blender to fit our odd shaped pre 1950’s house. My brother-in-law designed a built a salt-water tank with specialized lighting that mimics sunlight in a reef setting specific to a part of a globe. Don’t ask how and why… he just did.

4.) Work with other adults on a project where you’re solving a creative problem. I remember people coming to my house as a child to work out problems with my dad. Whether it was building a deck or fixing the car. Working together to piece a quilt and even solve out the design with others is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate this ability to work with other adults to solve a creative problem.

Now I’m only providing a few suggestions here, but you probably get the picture. Children are keen to pick up on adult behaviors and when you’re modeling the type of ‘compliance’ Godin refers to or even fear of trying new things, there’s a good chance that they’ll be influenced by it.

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3 Responses to “Schools aren’t teaching innovation? Parents to the Rescue”


  1. 1 tutoringmatch June 16, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Thank you for all the options you provided for creating an atmosphere of learning among one’s family.

  2. 2 nkilkenny June 17, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    You’re quite welcome! I think sometimes we rely too much on formal educational settings to impart knowledge and behavior to children and young adults. Educators (as well as parents) really should be engaging younger people to employ both their critical thinking and creativity in developing ‘wonderful things’ as well as solving problems. Our children are the highest form of capital we have developing a good future for us all.

  3. 3 Nappy Queen (@QueenNappy) March 7, 2013 at 1:56 am

    The interview was GREAT! I agree that the education system is meant to create compliant factory workers, rather than innovative critical thinkers. I want to share this video with some of my colleagues and re-post on my site if that’s ok.


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