Our students want to change the world. But to give them the skills they need to do so, schools must focus on five essential practices.
In their recent book That Used to Be Us,1
Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum argue that to succeed in the new global knowledge economy, all young people must learn to be innovators. U.S. workers who cannot bring innovation to their work will see their jobs increasingly off-shored or automated. Policymakers, economists, and business people may fiercely debate which specific approaches will solve the current worldwide economic crisis, but most of them agree on one thing: A nation's long-term economic health depends on innovation.
In the last few years, I have explored the question of how U.S. schools can educate young people to become innovators. I've interviewed scores of highly innovative 20-somethings—budding engineers and scientists, artists and musicians, entrepreneurs seeking better ways to solve societal problems, and others—and then studied the parental, educational, and mentoring influences that they told me were most important in their development.