Daily Archives: August 22, 2013

** Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner

I always find it sad when  I find myself agreeing with an author’s main ideas, but fighting each step of the way on the way the thesis and solutions are presented, and alas this is what happened when I read Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World. The thesis of the book is that (1) we need to foster creativity in young people, (2) the current educational system does a poor job of it, and (3) attempts to impose quality by measuring students’ performance on multiple-choice tests won’t cut it. Eminently reasonable, right? And yet, the author proceeds to tell us the stories of eight exceptional innovators, almost all of whom have upper middle-class parents and all of whom have parents with an unusual dedication to their children’s education, not at all in a Tiger Mom way, of course, but an enlightened, let-the-kid drives approach coupled with vigorous selection of great schools, probably not an approach that can easily be replicated with run-of-the-mill parents, let alone overwhelmed parents. We also read about exciting programs in schools and universities, all of them staffed by people who are not tenured and often not recognized by the very educational institutions that employ them (proving #2, but in a rather scary way!) And we also learn that many graduates of the very programs recognized in the book have trouble finding jobs — with no explanations of how the very companies that supposedly thirst for innovators cannot bring themselves to hiring the few that are produced…

So the book left me frustrated and puzzled more than inspired, at least for the masses of children who don’t luck into having fantastic parents.

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