Failure leads to innovation
by Iowa Future
April 17, 2012
“In most high-school and college classes, failure is penalized. But without trial and error, there is no innovation,” says education reform guru Tony Wagner.
Anticipating this week’s arrival of his new book (Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World), Wagner wrote about “Educating the Next Steve Jobs,” for The Wall Street Journal last week.
“Most of our high schools and colleges are not preparing students to become innovators,” Wagner says. “To succeed in the 21st-century economy, students must learn to analyze and solve problems, collaborate, persevere, take calculated risks and learn from failure.”
Most learning today is a passive experience, says Wagner, now innovation education fellow at the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard University. But in the most innovative schools, students are more creators, not just consumers. He uses San Diego’s High Tech High as an example.
In conventional schooling, Wagner says, students learn so they can get good grades. But Wagner’s recent research shows that most innovators are intrinsically motivated.
Teaching innovation cannot be mandated or offered as a class, Wagner says. Solutions involve new ways of evaluating student performance and professional development in which educators learn the three P’s of innovative cultures: play, passion and purpose.
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