Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner

This article is written by a member of our expert blogging community.

     Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap, recently published Creating Innovators.  In my opinion, this book picks up where The Global Achievement Gap left off.  The Global Achievement Gap identified the current state we find ourselves in.  He shares sobering statistics about how even our AP students have fallen seriously behind their counterparts in other counties.  He identifies 7 skills that he believes we must develop in young people to ensure their success in college and career.  These 7 include:  collaboration across networks and leading by influence, agility and adaptability, initiative and entrepreneurship, effective oral and written communication, accessing and analyzing information, and curiosity and imagination.  You can view Wagner speaking about these 7 skills by tuning in to  I think it should not be lost on us that he has identified these as “skills”.  Skills are different than talents and interests.  They can be learned and honed.  In other words, these skills can help the masses, and are not housed in a few core people.
     In Creating Innovators, Wagner does several case studies of young people who demonstrate innovation both in social enterprises and more traditional business arenas.  What he has found is that they each had parents or caregivers that supported them and did not over-schedule time, allowing them to explore and play.  They had a mentor who did not subscribe to conventional and traditional educational lectures and papers, but rather more authentic learning.  Wagner goes on to say that if you overlap expertise, motivation, and creative thinking skills, at the center you will find innovation, and that when you input the 7 survival skills into that innovation, you have a “revised framework for developing the capacities of young people to become innovators.” 
     Wagner’s book is well worth the read.  It gives you a great deal to think about.  In afterschool we are well-positioned to support authentic learning, hands-on explorations, and collaboration among learners. 
What strategies are you using in your program to encourage innovation?  How are you using an understanding of the 7 Survival Skills to make your program more relevant?  Let us know by weighing in at

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