Innovative Thinker

Why did I research this?

I have been desperate to do so for years!  My burning questions were: 1. What else could I do as a parent to ensure my children can think for themselves, connect with other people and be fulfilled by their own creativity.  2. How could I create an innovator without sending my children to a Montessori, Steiner or Finnish school.  Not because I don’t LOVE these schools, but because my local school is way more convenient and filled with our very own community. Is it possible I was wondering, to create an innovator even though my children go to a mainstream school?

What did I find out?

Of course it is possible to create an innovator without paying for an independent school or moving to Finland! (Phew). As parents we have so much power and many opportunities to model creative thinking, play and quite simply, how to have passion and purpose.

Education expert, Tony Wagner has not only interviewed and researched many parents of innovative young adults but he has spent years, researching employers, teachers and innovators themselves about exactly what is included in the sculpting of innovative people.  These are his findings:

1. Play, play and more play.

– Not over scheduling with after school activities

– Nurturing creativity

– Sparking imagination

– Teaching failure as success

– Providing fewer toys

– Limiting screen time

– Encouraging questioning

– giving opportunities and time to experiment (with boundaries… “You can pour that flour and paint out but with that comes cleaning up of flour and paint.”)

2. Passion

– Encouraging your children to find and pursue their passions by exposing them to a wide variety of topics, people and activities.

– Allowing your child choice in clothes, friends, activities and interests.

3. Purpose

– Listening to what your children truly care about

– Noticing what your children are engaged in

– Nurturing your children’s interests even if you think they may be making the wrong choice.

Some ideas that I have come up with to encourage all of this include:

Allowing one or no structured activity per week

Encouraging plenty of time spent with the children in our street

Encouraging time spent in trees, playing king of the castle and any game that is thought up, even if I don’t agree that it is fun.  (Pokemon battles was the one that was thought up last week, on the stepping stones under the washing line.  I almost pulled out but could see the joy on my son’s face as he kept making up more and more rules and objectives of his game.)

Taking time out of school twice or more a term to go on an excursion of my children’s choosing (within reason).

Visiting museums, art galleries, science centres, cathedrals, dance performances, all representing a range of cultures regularly.

Limiting screen time to once or twice on the weekend.  I also like this rule my friend has; “Day time is play time.”

Letting go of mess, as long as there is tidy up from the messerupperers.

When my older son asks me questions non stop, I ask him what he thinks the answer may be, if he were to guess.

What are your ideas?

How is this useful?

  • Creating cultures of innovators will make our world better, more interesting and exciting.
  • Sculpting your child into an innovative tinker will help her solve her problems, see things from different perspectives and become a fulfilled human being.

~ SM

This info from this article comes from Wagner, T. (2105). Creating Innovators. The making of young people who will change the world. New York: Scriber.

The illustration was inspired by David Roberts.