As always, I am looking for insight into the project of education for innovation. McKinsey recently published a piece on “Asia and the Elements of Innovation” by Eric Drexler, and I want to borrow from his some important points. A society must have the “human capital” for innovation, he says, and then he sketches out his suggestions for this:
1. “Scholarly students have a status among their peers like that of athletes in the United States and run little risk of being marginalized, ridiculed, or beaten.” Essential.
2. We must avoid teaching by drill, “which tends to dampen the critical thinking and spontaneous habits of thought that generate innovative ideas.” We have to see that arts education, and the promotion of creative thinking in all disciplines, actually have critical value-adds to the project of educating for global competition, because they will instill greater capacity for “spontaneous habits of thought.”
3. We need leaders to have deep and broad backgrounds in science: ” As science and technology grow in importance, it becomes increasingly important for leaders to have a good understanding of these disciplines. Among US legislators, though, a background in science and engineering is exceedingly rare. In France, it is common. In Taiwan, many legislators have doctoral degrees in science or engineering.” Let’s continue to drive educational reform in the direction of the sciences for all students, a scientific education that is rigorous, challenging, and committed to innovation.