In search of innovation

April 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

“Given the near consensus on the vital importance of innovation in today’s economy, I decided to explore the question of how you educate young people to become innovators. What are the capacities that matter most for innovation, and how are they best taught?”

— Tony Wagner, from Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World

A few days ago I wrote here about a New York Times review of the book above. It was a column by Thomas Friedman, and the review both intrigued and irritated me. Intrigued me because I get it: we need innovation. The world is changing. New skills are essential. But the review irritated me as well, mainly because I’m a guy who feels at home in the traditional. I love nothing more than a good book, a cup of coffee, and a few thoughtful people with whom to share insights. The review of Wagner’s book made me feel inadequate: is my education — my eight years of Jesuit education, my philosophy degree, my law degree — not enough? Is there a path to enlightenment that I’ve missed out on, to be delivered by a Harvard professor and a handful of people around the world, like the educational version of The Da Vinci Code? Must we constantly bemoan that education is not advanced enough? Can’t we just read a great text, talk about it, and trust that wisdom will mature naturally, as it has for centuries, as it has without iPads and Harvard education specialists?

Maybe — or maybe not. At any rate, my intrigue won out, and I decided to see what Wagner had to say. I will begin reading his book this weekend, planning to knock out at least two chapters (maybe more). If anyone would like to read along and comment, let me know. Let’s start the first round in The Ignatian Educator Book Club. I think it could be a very edifying online enterprise, for teachers, students, and those in business and in other fields.

Feel free to email me at memerson@xavierprep.org if you have any ideas about how to proceed.

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