Preparing for innovation

Thoughts from Tom Green on preparing students for innovation.

Today, many critics lament the lack of innovation in our society and draw the conclusion that more emphasis on teaching mathematics and science will lead to innovation. That will probably fail. Innovation comes from repeated successes in innovating. Innovation means trying ideas outside the accepted patterns. It means providing the opportunity to fail as a learning experience rather than as an embarrassment. … the traditional school powerfully suppresses any tendency toward being innovative. Both teachers and students are driven to conform.

From Bright Boys: The Making of Information Technology.

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5 thoughts on “Preparing for innovation

  1. I think a big problem with students being driven to conform especially in computer science programs is that they often don’t understand how their tools work, for example many ASP.NET developers often don’t have a deep enough understanding of HTML, HTTP, etc. They spend their school time learning shallowly a large framework but they miss a lot of opportunities to dig deeper. Learning new APIs is easy but knowing how to build your own is uncommon. There will always be cases where the framework has a gap and leaks and you have to understand at a deeper level what the framework is doing; in this case the student is unprepared to plug the leak because they’ve only ever been taught how to use Technology X instead of realizing they could have invented X.

  2. Totally agree. Teaching more mathematics will not do the job.
    The way how math (and imo all other subject) is teached should be changed.
    Paul Lockhart is right in his Lament about mathematics.

  3. @Vadmyst: wonderful link. Have you read this, John? It even mentions versine and nautical tables.

  4. @Jared: I’ve read the first few pages of Lockhart’s article and enjoyed it, but I haven’t read it all yet.

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