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Play, Passion, Purpose

February 7, 2014

Previously, teachers held the key to knowledge. Today, knowledge is free and easily accessible. Because of this, knowledge is not the hot commodity it once was; everyone owns it. The world no longer cares about what we know. It cares about what we can do with what we know. Innovation is the golden ticket.

According to Dr. Tony Wagner, there is a gap between the skills that are necessary to be successful innovators and what is being taught in schools. He defines these skills as core competencies: critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, agility and adaptability, initiative and entrepreneurial spirit, effective oral and written communication, accessing and analyzing information, curiosity and imagination. He contends that we need to graduate more students who can solve problems and can manufacture ideas. From preschool to graduate school, the culture of school is fundamentally at odds with the methods that foster innovation.

Dr. Wagner points to research he completed on innovative minds that showed the teachers who had the greatest impact were outliers. They did not fall into the five traps that currently hinder schools:

1. Rewarding individual achievement

2. Compartmentalizing knowledge and encouraging specialization

3. Supporting consumption

4. Fostering a fear of failure

5. Highlighting extrinsic motivation

These teachers supported collaboration and teamwork, they fostered creation, they encouraged trial and error (which included failure), and they didn’t emphasize extrinsic rewards. The work they fostered and nurtured was all about play, passion, and purpose.

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