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Teaching innovation June 28, 2006

Posted by Tom in Education, Innovation, Workforce.

In my daily swing through the blogs, a couple like-minded pieces emerged – those dealing with the concept of teaching innovation.  Innovation often is treated like an athletic gift – either you have it or you don’t.

Tell that to Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana.  According to Boomtown USA’s Jack Schultz, they are teaching entrepreneurship skills to kids, clearly fostering innovation in the process:

Logansport has teamed up with Ivy Tech, the state technical school, to begin offering entrepreneurship classes beginning in the fourth grade. The curriculum culminates in a business plan competition at the high school level which awards a $1000 scholarship to the winner. “We have a middle school student who has a patent pending on a stabilizer bar for bow hunting. He is selling it all over the country and is only in the eighth grade.”

Further up into the Ivory Tower, the fine folks at Stanford University believe that a curriculum can be designed to encourage innovation.  Fortune’s Business Innovation Insider found a fascinating interview by an Indian business magazine with Tina Seelig of Stanford’s Technology Ventures Program:

[The notion] that innovation can be de-constructed into a number of component parts and then taught as part of a broader curriculum – obviously has major implications, especially for emerging nations such as India. In fact, during the interview, Tina hints that India needs to de-emphasize its focus on technical knowledge and, instead, focus on teaching the types of skills and approaches required to be innovative and creative.

This concept doesn’t just have implications for India.  It is implications for Indiana – and the rest of the United States.   We will always need plenty of people with technical skills (Has anyone tried to get a plumber or electrician to come out on short notice?  Good luck!), but we can always use more creative minds to drive the creation of industries and the development of new products for the long-term health of our economies.  If we can teach these skills in an organized curriculum, all the better.



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