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Most 2-year-old kids are creativity geniuses, according to studies, but by the end of K12 education only 3% maintain the same level of creativity. So what’s missing from our education system that prevents us from developing our innate creativity further?

By Nancy Lin

That was the focus of my discussion last week on the Business Reinvention show with President of LEGO Education North America, Stephan Turnipseed. There is a growing sense of urgency, partly due to increasing global competition, as the country recognizes the importance of innovation to economic growth.  In addition, business leaders anticipate more ambiguity and complexity in the future, according to a study by IBM. Thinking creatively is now considered the most important leadership quality by the CEOs surveyed.

“Memorization is a bizarre concept for today’s kids”, said Turnipseed, referring to children growing up in an environment where information can be found easily at a click on the Internet. Schools continue to operate based on an old model that focuses on  content mastery. Instead, he argued, our education should focus on problem-solving process to help the kids develop skills that will be essential in the 21st century, such as critical thinking, ability to collaborate, great communication, creativity and learning from failures.

When talking about innovation and education challenges in the US, many contribute them to low scores in math and science. But innovation is much more than just understanding technology and science. If you talk to innovators, you will find that many of them have very diverse interests, including arts and philosophy, which allow them to develop the ability to cross-pollinate ideas. Getting kids to be inquisitive and curious about different subjects is just as important.

In the U.S. Only 5% of patent holders are women, even though we now have more women going to college than men. One has to wonder if men and women have different capabilities when it comes to innovation. Many neuroscientists believe that men and women learn about innovation in the same way, but our education and society tend to steer girls and boys different ways.  This poses questions of how we influence our children in terms of how they spend their time and develop their interests. Turnipseed encourages girls to expand their ability to see things three-dimensionally which is critical to understanding problems. Doing hands-on experiments is a great way to enhance that skill.

As technology accelerates the pace of change, it also influences the way kids learn and develop. It calls for a new approach to our education and parenting style. Check out the interview with Stephan Turnipseed to learn more insights.


About the Guest Blogger

Nancy Lin is Host and Producer for Business Reinvention. The show features innovative companies and trends that have the potential to transform industries and reinvent business models. She brings to her show a strong understanding of business having worked for Yahoo, DHL, Johnson & Johnson and Pepsi in the US and international markets and driven strong growth with innovative business strategies. She is also an emerging trends and business consultant, and executive coach at Change Agent SF, which helps clients transform the way they look at their businesses and leadership. Follow Nancy on Twitter @BizReinvention for more innovation news.