Creating Innovators

In the Makeshop at Children’s Museum

Institutions like the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh are on the front edge of innovation. They are creating new practices, processes, or projects that solve human problems in unique ways. The Makeshop is one example of an innovative space for both children and parents. (In 2013 I hope to publish a study of the role of innovation at the Children’s Museum. Get a look at a draft of the chapter.)

Tony Wagner, the first innovation education fellow at the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard, has recently (2012) written a book that Dan Pink, one of the guru’s of the study of 21st century thinking, states:

By telling the stories of young creators, and by taking us inside cutting-edge programs, Wagner shows that the answer isn’t to double down on outmoded formulaic solutions – but to embrace the principles of play, passion, and purpose.

How can we take Tony Wagner’s ideas and apply them to the educational institutions that for years have frustrated most innovators? What can we do differently to create a culture of innovation? We need to develop systems and structures that encourage play, allow students to develop passion for things they want to learn, and provide a purpose by working on projects where students make, build, create, or tinker. We need to design a system for personalized learning with using Project-based Learning (PBL) as an underlying strategy. By developing a personalized learning environment students will have the opportunity to discover their passions and by adding a PBL structure, students will apply their knowledge to create products and services that have a purpose.
We need to connect the worlds of informal and formal learning so all people have the opportunity to grow and become active citizens.

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