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Creating Innovators (Enhanced eBook): The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World

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In this groundbreaking book, education expert Tony Wagner provides a powerful rationale for developing an innovation-driven economy. He explores what parents, teachers, and employers must do to develop the capacities of young people to become innovators. In profiling compelling young American innovators such as Kirk Phelps, product manager for Apple’s first iPhone, and Jod In this groundbreaking book, education expert Tony Wagner provides a powerful rationale for developing an innovation-driven economy. He explores what parents, teachers, and employers must do to develop the capacities of young people to become innovators. In profiling compelling young American innovators such as Kirk Phelps, product manager for Apple’s first iPhone, and Jodie Wu, who founded a company that builds bicycle-powered maize shellers in Tanzania, Wagner reveals how the adults in their lives nurtured their creativity and sparked their imaginations, while teaching them to learn from failures and persevere. Wagner identifies a pattern—a childhood of creative play leads to deep-seated interests, which in adolescence and adulthood blossom into a deeper purpose for career and life goals. Play, passion, and purpose: These are the forces that drive young innovators.      Wagner shows how we can apply this knowledge as educators and what parents can do to compensate for poor schooling. He takes readers into the most forward-thinking schools, colleges, and workplaces in the country, where teachers and employers are developing cultures of innovation based on collaboration, interdisciplinary problem-solving, and intrinsic motivation. The result is a timely, provocative, and inspiring manifesto that will change how we look at our schools and workplaces, and provide us with a road map for creating the change makers of tomorrow.     Creating Innovators will feature its own innovative elements: more than sixty original videos that expand on key ideas in the book through interviews with young innovators, teachers, writers, CEOs, and entrepreneurs, including Thomas Friedman, Dean Kamen, and Annmarie Neal.


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In this groundbreaking book, education expert Tony Wagner provides a powerful rationale for developing an innovation-driven economy. He explores what parents, teachers, and employers must do to develop the capacities of young people to become innovators. In profiling compelling young American innovators such as Kirk Phelps, product manager for Apple’s first iPhone, and Jod In this groundbreaking book, education expert Tony Wagner provides a powerful rationale for developing an innovation-driven economy. He explores what parents, teachers, and employers must do to develop the capacities of young people to become innovators. In profiling compelling young American innovators such as Kirk Phelps, product manager for Apple’s first iPhone, and Jodie Wu, who founded a company that builds bicycle-powered maize shellers in Tanzania, Wagner reveals how the adults in their lives nurtured their creativity and sparked their imaginations, while teaching them to learn from failures and persevere. Wagner identifies a pattern—a childhood of creative play leads to deep-seated interests, which in adolescence and adulthood blossom into a deeper purpose for career and life goals. Play, passion, and purpose: These are the forces that drive young innovators.      Wagner shows how we can apply this knowledge as educators and what parents can do to compensate for poor schooling. He takes readers into the most forward-thinking schools, colleges, and workplaces in the country, where teachers and employers are developing cultures of innovation based on collaboration, interdisciplinary problem-solving, and intrinsic motivation. The result is a timely, provocative, and inspiring manifesto that will change how we look at our schools and workplaces, and provide us with a road map for creating the change makers of tomorrow.     Creating Innovators will feature its own innovative elements: more than sixty original videos that expand on key ideas in the book through interviews with young innovators, teachers, writers, CEOs, and entrepreneurs, including Thomas Friedman, Dean Kamen, and Annmarie Neal.

30 review for Creating Innovators (Enhanced eBook): The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    This book has an excellent premise, and the first few chapters of theory were useful. However, the title would better reflect the content if it were called, "Interviews with People Who Parented Innovators." I thought the content could have been better distilled and organized. While many of the people who were featured were interesting, I had to fight to finish this book. The inclusion of QR codes seemed like an interesting idea, but it distracted highly from the reading. Perhaps for someone willi This book has an excellent premise, and the first few chapters of theory were useful. However, the title would better reflect the content if it were called, "Interviews with People Who Parented Innovators." I thought the content could have been better distilled and organized. While many of the people who were featured were interesting, I had to fight to finish this book. The inclusion of QR codes seemed like an interesting idea, but it distracted highly from the reading. Perhaps for someone willing to stop halfway through a chapter to watch a long video with the people discussed, it would be useful. Not for me. If you are an educator (or a homeschooler like myself) looking for practical ways to alter your education settings or lifestyle, this is probably not the book you are looking for. While there are good concepts about learning via play, limiting screen time, and promoting flexibility, the majority of this book is a kind of mish-mash of anecdotes about people and various schools. I started reading Legendary Learning: The Famous Homeschoolers' Guide to Self-Directed Excellence just after this one, and I think Legendary Learning is a much better guide to a very similar topic.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    How did I do as an innovation creator? Very limited or no tv: check; lots of unstructured play: check; limited activities outside of school: check; encouraging my kids to do what they love and are passionate about: check; spending lots of cash on hoity toity private schools and perhaps even moving the WHOLE family for one kid's education at said hoity toity school: darn. Despite the lack of cash, I have to say that my children are amazingly creative and making a big difference in their chosen fi How did I do as an innovation creator? Very limited or no tv: check; lots of unstructured play: check; limited activities outside of school: check; encouraging my kids to do what they love and are passionate about: check; spending lots of cash on hoity toity private schools and perhaps even moving the WHOLE family for one kid's education at said hoity toity school: darn. Despite the lack of cash, I have to say that my children are amazingly creative and making a big difference in their chosen fields. Wagner's research is very biased towards STEM folks being the only valid innovators. An interesting read, even though it can't be accepted as actual research about how to create innovative people. We aren't all innovators, thank goodness. I can see it now: trendy parents turning off the tv, selling all the video games, turning in the soccer chairs, and not understanding why little Mavis or Marvin isn't an innovative creator heading towards a full ride at Stanford or MIT. Trust me, parents: Mavis/Marvin may simply not be the innovative type, which is ok. Read them a good book on the couch and give them some Legos and crayons anyway!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Bush

    Tony Wagner's new book is pretty good. It is worth reading and there is some good stuff in there, but I was a little disappointed after reading the "Global Achievement Gap," which was one of the best books I've ever read on education. I suppose disappointment was inevitable. Wagner concludes that the creation of innovators demands passion, play, and purpose. Wagner also looks for examples in innovative schools and innovative teachers. The book is the next logical step after "The Global Achievemen Tony Wagner's new book is pretty good. It is worth reading and there is some good stuff in there, but I was a little disappointed after reading the "Global Achievement Gap," which was one of the best books I've ever read on education. I suppose disappointment was inevitable. Wagner concludes that the creation of innovators demands passion, play, and purpose. Wagner also looks for examples in innovative schools and innovative teachers. The book is the next logical step after "The Global Achievement Gap." In his original work, Wagner took a jackhammer to the NCLB-mindset, which believes achieving good standardized test scores is the pinnacle of good education. In his current work, Wagner attempts to paint a more detailed picture - so standardized test scores aren't enough, then what should we be trying to do? Wagner's answer, as stated above, is passion, play, and purpose. The book is mostly a series of anecdotes. Wagner interviews teachers, students, parents, professors, businessmen, etc. In each interview Wagner tries to uncover the reasons behind the creation of an innovator. There certainly is some merit to this process, and the multiple layers of interpretation bring a depth to Wagner's analysis that few education books have. There are many, many positive things to say about the depth of Wagner's analysis. However, while the depth is impressive it should also be noted that the breadth is lacking. This book is a series of anecdotes. There are no scientific studies with large samples of students. There is no reference to the work of incredible cognitive psychologists who specialize in education (Daniel Willingham!!). The depth is so deep and the breadth is so narrow that I am left to wonder if the validity of Wagner's conclusions have any strength to them at all. Yes, they sound great. And I have a personal affinity to Wagner's vision of education. He describes the type of schools I've always wanted to see - schools driven by skills over content. But lots of things sound great. The real question is if it works. Can Wagner tell us if his approach works? Unfortunately not. The sample of Wagner's anecdotes is so small that he is thoroughly unprepared to answer this question. Overall, a good book. Yes, there is one serious flaw, but that is the only one. "Creating Innovators" contributes positively to the educational dialogue. I recommend reading it, and you might as well just do it. Wagner has become such a force in educational circles that you're probably going to hear his ideas in your staff meetings. You might as well just read it and get the full picture.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    "I asked [former CEO of Best Buy] Brad [Anderson] to give an example of how he has used his employees' knowledge to improve the overall customer experience, and he described how some of the younger employees had noticed that few women ever came into their stores. It turned out that many women were turned off by the technical talk about the number of megapixels in a digital camera, for example, when all they wanted to know was how to e-mail their friend a picture they'd taken." ... ... HEY BRO I FIG "I asked [former CEO of Best Buy] Brad [Anderson] to give an example of how he has used his employees' knowledge to improve the overall customer experience, and he described how some of the younger employees had noticed that few women ever came into their stores. It turned out that many women were turned off by the technical talk about the number of megapixels in a digital camera, for example, when all they wanted to know was how to e-mail their friend a picture they'd taken." ... ... HEY BRO I FIGURED OUT WHY YOUR COMPANY'S DYING

  5. 5 out of 5

    Qwerty

    Follow your passion, repeat follow your passion, repeat again follow your passion. This may have been an interesting magazine length article, but as a book it is very repetitive and not all that insightful.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Before you read this review please note that I read this book as someone who wants to learn more about building innovative environments for vendors and potential employees. I am not an educator. Tony Wagner explains how we as mentors, leaders, parents and teachers need to improve the development of young, potential innovators in order to help solve prominent economic and social challenges. And I believe him. Innovation is needed in every industry. In many respects, we're stifling youth development Before you read this review please note that I read this book as someone who wants to learn more about building innovative environments for vendors and potential employees. I am not an educator. Tony Wagner explains how we as mentors, leaders, parents and teachers need to improve the development of young, potential innovators in order to help solve prominent economic and social challenges. And I believe him. Innovation is needed in every industry. In many respects, we're stifling youth development and innovation with outdated/traditional teaching methods and uninspiring office environments. I've felt trapped and uninspired at one point in every stage of my life. Economies worldwide are struggling, poverty is widespread and technologies are both contributing new possibilities and crushing old ones. What people are doing today will be old news tomorrow. The world needs people who can identify constraints, define problems and inefficiencies, and make difficult decisions in favor of societal improvement and advancement. When I look back at my childhood I can remember the joy I experienced from building things. I loved building structures and spaceships from Legos, then briefly admiring them not even long enough for them to collect dust ...or until my mother intervened. She was a real stickler for a clean living room! But I never really enjoyed playing with my already-assembled Legos. For me, the joy came from the process of building. The gratification for me came (and still stems) from experimenting, learning how to solve problems, evaluating, learning how to take existing systems/practices/Lego instruction manuals and adapting them...and improving them. Tony Wagner explores the question that constantly runs through my head: What happened to playing? Wagner points out that many schools (at least in the US) are designed to produce high standardized test scores and "college-ready" students. Many colleges and universities are designed to produce graduate level-ready students. You may disagree with those statements but my point is, the main focus is usually not on producing innovative people. A lot of us may have already lost that fearless, innovative spirit that once flourished on playgrounds and in playrooms. The world needs innovators. We need them everywhere. We need innovation in science, in education, in infrastructure, in finance, in culinary arts, in plumbing and so on. And Wagner explains that innovation stems from a less traditional way of educating that thrives off of these following intrinsic motivations: Play, Passion and Purpose. As a teacher herself, my partner finds innovative ways to motivate and excite her young students everyday. Admittedly, she's the one who told me about this book which presents evidence and methods on how we can better prepare our youth for a world that's truly ripe for disruption. And someday her students, the ones who may have come to school with unimaginative, obedient minds, will leave with fearless, inventive minds en route to becoming some of the world's next innovators. I think there's something for everyone in this book if you can get through the number of stories Wagner tells. This explorative read is designed to help us understand what we can do to help nurture the qualities of innovators - whether you're dealing with students or professionals. And in order to do that, it requires reflecting on who you are as a human being, identifying what's important to you, identifying why you're on this earth and then translating that deeper understanding into a leadership platform. Most importantly, innovation flourishes upon creating an empowering culture that feeds on the mentioned intrinsic motivations of Play, Passion and Purpose allowing ideas--both good and bad--to foster.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kaufmak

    Let's see how do you create innovators? According to Wagner it take three easy steps. 1: Be Wealthy. In almost all of the examples provided, the innovators came from middle-class to upper class backgrounds. If you want to learn about innovation, get insights about it, talk to CEOs, COOs, and other top executives of major companies. 2: Gain Exposure to the top Universities in the United States. Along those same lines, try and get into Harvard, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Emory, and the like to get the Let's see how do you create innovators? According to Wagner it take three easy steps. 1: Be Wealthy. In almost all of the examples provided, the innovators came from middle-class to upper class backgrounds. If you want to learn about innovation, get insights about it, talk to CEOs, COOs, and other top executives of major companies. 2: Gain Exposure to the top Universities in the United States. Along those same lines, try and get into Harvard, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Emory, and the like to get the education you need to be an innovator. If you don't finish at said schools, that is ok, remember step one, you are wealthy so you have that to fall back on. 3: Be White. While not absolutely essential, it certainly seems to help. Almost every innovator Wagner profiled seemed to be of Caucasian descent. Again not every single one, but pretty close. It also doesn't hurt to have a trendy name like Zander or Taylor. Throughout much of this book, Wagner doesn't really define what innovation is. He gives some examples of interesting projects and especially products, but how innovative those things are is a matter of perspective. For example, Wagner's lead profile in on the young man who developed the first iPhone. Sure, as a product it was marginally innovative. Ultimately though, it is just another phone with a few more bells and whistles. What's more it is already obsolete. So the strategy of planned obsolescence, a mid-twentieth century stalwart, is being passed off as innovation. Finally, the iPhone doesn't exist without some of the worst labor practices in the world. Of course those concerns are ignored by Wagner, much like the Apple advertisements meant to distract us from 19th century labor practices, "Designed in America" but built in China. Even the "social innovators" profiled in this book are more concerned with dressing up the status quo and calling it new. Is anyone really against funding projects in Sierra Leone? To be truly innovative, let's think of ways to distribute wealth in a more equitable manner so microfunding and other novelty schemes are as necessary. To be truly innovative, let's start working on the roots of social problems instead of applying new band-aids to old gun shot wounds. In the Afterword, Wagner does back track a bit on some of is ideas. He realizes that charter schools are not the panacea of education and though he is not tenured, I think getting a paycheck from Harvard has blunted some of his criticism of the tenure structure. If you want to be an innovator, don't read this book. Take that time to develop your own ideas. If you want to create innovators, don't read this book. Raise your kids to be responsible, curious and disciplined. Only you know how to achieve that balance for your children.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Herzog

    CQ+ PQ> IQ Creativity+Passion > IQ Helping my kids and myself explore the world and find what truly inspires them. Learning how to learn and enjoying the process and failure is a necessary life skill. Hopefully this will help our average IQ put a “ding” in the universe. Our traditional methods for education are out dated in an era with such easy access to information. We need more coaches in education facilitating action not lecturing. Let the internet know everything, show me what you can d CQ+ PQ> IQ Creativity+Passion > IQ Helping my kids and myself explore the world and find what truly inspires them. Learning how to learn and enjoying the process and failure is a necessary life skill. Hopefully this will help our average IQ put a “ding” in the universe. Our traditional methods for education are out dated in an era with such easy access to information. We need more coaches in education facilitating action not lecturing. Let the internet know everything, show me what you can do with it and your passion. I am inspired to focus on the details of my interests, remember them, and do something with them!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    I will keep this one short and sweet. I like the premise of the book, that being an innovator requires play, passion, and purpose. I agree wholeheartedly with the author's commentary about the poor state of modern education and the dangers of overparenting. I would recommend anyone interested in properly reforming education read this book. "Anyone who has spent time in an elementary school classroom knows that every student starts school with unbounded imagination, curiosity, and creativity - un I will keep this one short and sweet. I like the premise of the book, that being an innovator requires play, passion, and purpose. I agree wholeheartedly with the author's commentary about the poor state of modern education and the dangers of overparenting. I would recommend anyone interested in properly reforming education read this book. "Anyone who has spent time in an elementary school classroom knows that every student starts school with unbounded imagination, curiosity, and creativity - until he or she learns that knowing the right answer is far more important than asking a thoughtful question." "We are trying to teach students how to frame problems versus repeat the answers." I seriously question the usefulness of our school systems in preparing students for the real world. The uptick in student complaints about such things as "trigger warnings" shows the ridiculously sheltered and entitled nature of these young people. Instead of being inquisitive and excited about learning and being exposed to new ideas, many simply want to keep hearing what they've already heard, master what they've already mastered, and be told what the answer is but only if they like the answer. That said, I do have several issues with the book. First and foremost is the author failed to truly show an innovator arising from a detrimental environment. Even the ones that seemingly started life poorly were still much better off than their peers, including opportunities to learn abroad, attend elite schools, and meet valuable mentors. The lead example had to play soccer on the other side of town to be exposed to other cultures outside of his suburban bubble. Another example's parents worried about driving through sketchy portions of Atlanta (their daughter did not). The best examples of innovative learning and students are all centered around sub-sections of schools like MIT and Stanford. This actually goes a long way to showing the broken state of innovative education in the US but doesn't help the case that you can create an innovator out of anyone. The epilogue, written by the film partner, also brings up the point that the innovators have a hard time "making passion pay the bills." There was a lot of repetition. The basic premise of play, passion, purpose is repeated over and over. Each chapter ends with a reflections section that sums up how the chapter illustrated those pillars. The author refers back to his previous book, The Global Achievement Gap: Why Our Kids Don't Have the Skills They Need for College, Careers, and Citizenship—and What We Can Do About It, numerous times despite the opening saying it has become a bit outdated. The inclusion of the QR codes really dragged down the book for me. Even if I wanted to scan them, they were so prevalent that the actual reading would be disrupted. It's a neat idea to integrate such technology, but every book I've seen this done I never even bothered with the extra content. Maybe a more innovative approach is needed it to work and entice more people. I appreciated the message and premise of this book much more than its actual execution.

  10. 5 out of 5

    K.K. Wootton

    Can be a little redundant, but extremely interesting and informative. Highly recommend the enhanced ebook on iPad. The integration of videos is excellent. I wish, though, that the book examined students whose gifts were in the arts. The author addresses this omission in the introduction, claiming (I think) that the book simply had to be pared down. But there was redundancy in the book -- sections that served to drive home points that had already been well made. Without those redundancies, there Can be a little redundant, but extremely interesting and informative. Highly recommend the enhanced ebook on iPad. The integration of videos is excellent. I wish, though, that the book examined students whose gifts were in the arts. The author addresses this omission in the introduction, claiming (I think) that the book simply had to be pared down. But there was redundancy in the book -- sections that served to drive home points that had already been well made. Without those redundancies, there would have been room to examine an artistic kid or two. The semi-exception is the story of a young shoe designer who is working to build his own company. Amazing story. This incredible person is not only an artist, but an entrepreneur. What about the painter who can barely tie his shoelaces? Or the shy novelist? I also felt slightly annoyed by the hyper-achievement showcased here. I understand that central to the book is examination of innovators, but sometimes I thought - c'mon, is a kid dropping out of Exeter to go to Stanford really something parents should be looking at as an example of radical choices that work? Or the supermodel/Columbia-student child of two geniuses. You're talking about highly gifted, extraordinary kids. True, there were takeaways from every case study, but sometimes the book seemed to show a lack of understanding about how extreme these kids were. No shortage of references to Harvard, Stanford and MIT, btw;) Try to get into one of those suckers without acing some serious multiple choice tests (which the book denounces, to some extent)!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Moayad Taibah

    This was one of the longest reads I've gone through recently, but I believe it was worth it. Creating innovators is a window that peers into their lives at home, schools, and during their careers. Each of these phases had directed and affected them one way or the other molding them into what they are. Whether they innovated in STEM fields or social endeavors, you begin to see patterns in their upbringing, education, and self development that the author captures and explains in a concise and clear This was one of the longest reads I've gone through recently, but I believe it was worth it. Creating innovators is a window that peers into their lives at home, schools, and during their careers. Each of these phases had directed and affected them one way or the other molding them into what they are. Whether they innovated in STEM fields or social endeavors, you begin to see patterns in their upbringing, education, and self development that the author captures and explains in a concise and clear direction. Parents, educators, employers, or budding creators can, and should, grasp these gems of knowledge and instill them in upcoming generations or within themselves. I enjoyed reading the case studies and lessons learned extracted from them. To be frank though, it started to feel repetitive at a point where it was yet another case study that didn't really present anything new to the equation it just had different variables that lead to the same result. The book also took a couple of swings at the educational system and its evaluation method which I do agree is part of the problem but it may have been a bit too critical going about it. To every parent, soon to be parent, person lost in ambition with dormant energy waiting to be released, EDUCATORs, EDUCATORs, and EDUCATORs this book is a must read, it provides you with much needed introspection and arms you to carve your way or that of youngsters in your life that gets them, or you, from good to great.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christina Gagliano

    The power of this book comes from the real-world experiences--written in a conversational and engaging way--of the young innovators and their parents, teachers, and mentors who have made/are making a difference, who are truly encouraging innovative thinking and inspiring students to follow their passions in a purposeful way. One of the most resounding quotes that in the book was from filmmaker Scott Rosenberg, on page 145: "I believe our job (as teachers/mentors/parents) is to look for the threa The power of this book comes from the real-world experiences--written in a conversational and engaging way--of the young innovators and their parents, teachers, and mentors who have made/are making a difference, who are truly encouraging innovative thinking and inspiring students to follow their passions in a purposeful way. One of the most resounding quotes that in the book was from filmmaker Scott Rosenberg, on page 145: "I believe our job (as teachers/mentors/parents) is to look for the threads, plant the seeds, and provide them (students) with the tools and structures for purposefulnes. Someone who has a purpose or a reason can endure a lot. This is where our education system is utterly lacking. Who wants to go through the crap of all that rote work and memorization for no reason?" Microsoft tags are included throughout the book to provide supplemental video that is supposed to enhance the written book. Seeing the people profiled and hearing their voices was certainly powerful, as was the link to Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture" and to the author's Asia Society lecture. In terms of content, though, most of the other tags didn't provide any additional value to what was written in the book. I do like the tags idea, and look forward to seeing how it is used in future books.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Megan Mkrtschjan

    "I bought two acres of land in Sierra Leone a while ago I was thinking I wanted to build a school - a place where kids come and don't think it's a school - a place you want to come every day, where your day is about feeling your presence in he world, knowing that you control who you are, that you can influence others, but at the same time you are not different or removed from everybody else. " "We have seen how essential it is for teachers of innovators to give up a measure of their authority and "I bought two acres of land in Sierra Leone a while ago I was thinking I wanted to build a school - a place where kids come and don't think it's a school - a place you want to come every day, where your day is about feeling your presence in he world, knowing that you control who you are, that you can influence others, but at the same time you are not different or removed from everybody else. " "We have seen how essential it is for teachers of innovators to give up a measure of their authority and control in order to transition from being the 'sage on the stage' to the 'guide on the side,'" -241 So true and so hard. Teacher accountability needs to be changed so we feel comfortable implementing innovative environments.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Eduardo

    I liked the book and agree with the philosophy and lessons from people interviewed. I especially appreciated the more concrete lessons distilled from lots of interviews (e.g. on what specifically kids get from play and how to structure it so kids develop as innovators, or on elements of school design/environment that develops innovators). He could have done a better job at bringing everything together into one cohesive framework/hypothesis, but we probably just aren't that sophisticated as a soc I liked the book and agree with the philosophy and lessons from people interviewed. I especially appreciated the more concrete lessons distilled from lots of interviews (e.g. on what specifically kids get from play and how to structure it so kids develop as innovators, or on elements of school design/environment that develops innovators). He could have done a better job at bringing everything together into one cohesive framework/hypothesis, but we probably just aren't that sophisticated as a society yet to have such clarity on how to intentionally develop innovators. This is a positive step in that direction.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    A great book for any parent, teacher, employer or concerned citizen. There such a wide gap between the mindset of the academics in America and the mindset of the people leading successful businesses. A bleak future can be avoided if we can nurture a generation of innovative young people who are willing to take risks, learn from mistakes and collaborate with others. This book elaborates on the importance of Play, Passion and Purpose. The author invested much effort to research the ideas put forth A great book for any parent, teacher, employer or concerned citizen. There such a wide gap between the mindset of the academics in America and the mindset of the people leading successful businesses. A bleak future can be avoided if we can nurture a generation of innovative young people who are willing to take risks, learn from mistakes and collaborate with others. This book elaborates on the importance of Play, Passion and Purpose. The author invested much effort to research the ideas put forth in the pages of this book and his assertions are backed up with real life examples. READ THIS BOOK.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    I thought this book was absolutely fascinating. It took a look at current education practices and showed how they are not producing innovative thinkers. I think my take-home message as far as helping my kids to be innovative thinkers is that they should have plenty of free playtime, should be exposed to a lot of different experiences as far as sports, trips, musical instruments,etc, and that we should encourage them to think for themselves and to problem-solve as creatively as possible early on.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cathleen

    A bit repetitive and heavy on anecdotes of exceptional innovators from affluent households. I wish it were more concrete: here is the recipe. But that's probably because I'm a part of the system that quashes innovative thought, even as I desire to change it. Interesting ideas but I'm at a loss how to apply them.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    This book is very inspiring! I am lucky to be able to teach in a school that isn't driven by test scores and gives kids a lot of freedom to pursue a passion for learning. I recommend this book for all parents and teachers who want to inspire their children to be a different kind of learner - one with passion, curiosity, insight, low fear of failure, drive, and the ability to think differently.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Billeen Carlson

    Another awesome book by Tony Wagner, one of the best minds in education today, details his extensive case studies in young innovators. From a teaching and parenting perspective, his insights into the key traits of raising and educating a kid who can take control of her life and make a difference in the world are priceless.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rob Cantrall

    Fantastic read...both enlightening and eye-opening, with many profiles of young innovators (including the Product Manager of the first iPhone), this book already has us re-thinking what we want to do with the kids this summer. Beyond that, it has us reconsidering what we need to do relative to school and academia itself for our kids. Provocative, and a must read for any parent or educator.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Desiree

    Engaging read-- has something to say for parents, teachers, and teacher educators. I found the most points of connection with the recommendations for higher ed-- how do we create opportunities for contemplation, play, and innovation more regularly than the every-seven-years sabbatical affords?

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Definitely gets readers to see concrete examples of students who are innovators and what type of education supports and constrains them! Wagner is a voice that should be listened to regarding how education (particularly secondary and post-secondary) needs to change.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Duong Tan

    For educators, this book is worth reading carefully and read it again dozen time.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Keegan

    Some months back I went and had lunch with a friend who is also my former English teacher. Though officially retired, she is still heavily involved in my old high school and helps to mentor kids who are going through one of the charter schools that's now a school within the school. She had recently led a discussion group with parents of these students based on this book. I have just finished the book and I am so excited about it! It's just really gotten me thinking. When I mentioned it to a frie Some months back I went and had lunch with a friend who is also my former English teacher. Though officially retired, she is still heavily involved in my old high school and helps to mentor kids who are going through one of the charter schools that's now a school within the school. She had recently led a discussion group with parents of these students based on this book. I have just finished the book and I am so excited about it! It's just really gotten me thinking. When I mentioned it to a friend, she said it sounded like a business book, and it does relate to business, but it's really a book focused on parenting, education, and mentoring -- and how to do that well so that children become the kind of adults who are are prepared to contribute to the world and the economy in meaningful ways. The author spends the first chapter reviewing literature that's been written on innovation and education in the past. Then he spends one chapter interviewing young innovators (mostly in their twenties) and their parents and mentors. He also spends a chapter on educational institutions which are being innovative. The last chapter focuses on the parents' suggestions and challenges with fostering innovation within their kids. Throughout, he also shares insights from leaders at some of the most successful and innovative companies on what kind of new hires they need . . . and why traditional schools aren't turning them out. In many cases, these companies struggle to find hires and once they've found them they sometimes have to spend resources re-educating them. When I first started reading the book I was looking for a good explanation of what is meant by "innovation" in this book. What it comes down to is problem-solving and creative-thinking mixed with curiosity and the courage to try (and willingness to fail). I have a lot of thoughts on this book and I would like to write them down so I don't forget. Parenting As parenting is my full-time job, this aspect of it really stood out to me. There were some ways I really thought I could do better. For instance, many of the parents pointed out that innovation is often a form of rebellion against the norm, so it's impossible to overemphasize obedience and create successful innovators. This really got me to thinking because we do put a high degree of importance on obedience, partly because that's sort of the broader culture of parenting I think, partly because faithful obedience is an important principle in our religion, and partly because it's our personalities. I wondered how we could change the way we go about this. It also stood out to me because I've been reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to Mario and he is completely and miserably anxious every time Harry breaks the rules (which is often) and it made me realize how high a degree of importance Mario places on obedience even when maybe breaking the rules could be justified. Many of the parents also addressed the need for allowing children independence. This took several different forms, including unstructured play. My kids get a lot of that, so I didn't worry about that one so much. The one that stuck out to me is independence to explore their world. If we are at my parents' house, then my kids have an immense amount of freedom to roam the yard, dig in the dirt, and explore, and as they get older they'll have even more freedom to go wander in the back forty and see what they see. However, in our own neighborhood, there are some of us mothers that are quite judgmental of the kids who wander the neighborhood freely without any parental supervision. So far the kids have been safe and haven't experienced any adverse consequences for it. I also reflected on a friend who comes from a very large family (maybe 12 kids) who recalls taking a trip by bus from Wisconsin to Texas at the age of 13 to visit an older sister. She can be pretty critical of her parents' methods and their seeming inability to know and adequately attend to all their children. She wonders now what they were thinking to send a young, inexperienced, naive girl across the country alone. Yet, this friend is confident, fearless, happy, and healthy, and she requires a high degree of independence from her own children. She seems as though she can do anything. It made me question my view on this and it made me wonder how I could put my fears aside to allow my children more freedom to explore. One thing I observed that I questioned was the attitude that the parents' experiences and efforts were the right way to parent, and in fact I did agree or was swayed by many of their efforts. However, it occurred to me that he found them through their own innovative efforts or the innovative efforts of their children. In the first case, when their children were still young, who knows how their children are actually going to turn out? In the second case, what about parents who had similar philosophies whose children didn't turn out to be brilliant entrepreneurs and designers, whose children didn't make it through the system and come out on top? Does that happen? I question whether this parenting philosophy (or any parenting philosophy) is guaranteed to work, as sometimes implied. In many cases, I had little in common with the parents Wagner highlighted. One family reflected that their children's friends were surprised to see them playing outside. This seemed odd to me. Every parent and family I know puts a high degree of importance on children getting outside to play. Perhaps that's because I'm in Wisconsin and we're all needing to thaw out all summer long. Perhaps that's because we don't live in an especially wealthy area. But that was hard for me to buy. I don't know any parents who would be content to have their kids sitting around inside. The parents all had a sense of swimming against the parenting tide -- of doing things against the norm -- and I guess that comment made me question how much of that was true and how much of that was just their imaginations. Except for a few exceptions, the families all seemed to be quite wealthy and in many cases, the mothers and fathers both worked at highly innovative companies themselves. Neither Patrick nor I is in the business of innovation, so if that's a requirement, our kids are in trouble. Note: I don't really think it is. According to Wagner, perhaps the biggest thing that parents and mentors can do is allow free play for children to discover things that they can become passionate about. Education Education is becoming a passion of mine. The more I learn about it, the more I'm anxious to learn how to do it right. I feel that it is one of the most confusing issues of our (and perhaps any) age. How do you choose which public school, or private school, or charter school? And then what about higher education? How do you find one that is really, truly going to prepare your child to work and compete happily and successfully in the world? Interestingly, Wagner explains that innovation is going to be the most necessary skill of any job in the future, but his focus is on innovative entrepreneurs. Reading the book, I wondered about more traditional careers -- it would have been interesting to hear how innovation can be applied and how it is being applied by lawyers and doctors and mechanics. I believe that it is, but because I'm not sure that every individual is going to start a new business (or maybe that every individual should start a new business since we need these other professions too), I would have been interested to hear about innovation in other contexts. I was really nicely prepped for this book by having just read an article that introduced me to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. I was hooked on the concept by the article, but Wagner actually argues that this is too narrow, that innovators require an even broader education than these subjects imply. Sometimes STEM education is revised to STEAM (which adds the arts) and perhaps that would serve Wagner's purposes better. What really hooked me in the article, though, was the maker movement, and despite what Wagner said regarding the overemphasis on STEM education, the Maker movement, with organizations such as Curiosity Hacked, sound like a beautiful opportunity to offer children free exploration and exposure to engineering from an early age. As a graduate with a degree in the humanities myself, I can see both Bill Gates' point (who is pushing heavily for increased focused on STEM education) since I often feel afloat without direction when I consider what I would do for a job if it came to it, and Wagner's point since I love the humanities and feel the classes helped to develop my mind and spirit in positive, healthy ways. What Wagner really communicated in this book was the utter mess our education system is in as a whole. As a homeschooling parent, I found this fascinating. The teacher who loaned me the book said she herself sides with Patrick (who is against homeschooling) and questions if it can be done thoroughly and well. Yet, when I read this book, it didn't reassure me that traditional schooling (either public or private) is necessarily providing the skills that kids need to excel in the future. Wagner really touted the Montessori movement (and listed a number of Who's Who's of the business world who had all been Montessori educated in their pre-k/kindergarten years). Yet overall, he described a deficient system that is becoming more so in many cases. He encourages the U.S. to look to Finland's efforts at education reform as a guide. He has created a documentary on their system that I'm eager to watch (but haven't yet) entitled The Finland Phenomenon. He does not list a single parent who homeschooled among his parents, but that fascinated me because I could see homeschooling as a really fantastic option to foster the creativity and curiosity that the schools are lacking. So is it that the homeschooling movement was much smaller when I was a child and he was interviewing my generation? Or is it that homeschooling fails to provide the necessary skills? Besides the problems with primary and secondary education, Wagner argues that higher education is really failing to meet the current needs of our progressing and changing economy, and he states that somehow while we are painfully aware of the lack in the earlier years, we still take pride in our universities as being really on-target. He highlights some schools that are being innovative and that are changing their structures and cultures, but these he said are not the norm and they are not being accepted in some cases by their peers from more traditional programs. However, I think that people do realize that higher education needs an overhaul. I recently read an article about it in The Economist, though perhaps Wagner himself is one helping to draw attention to that. Also, while reading the book, I received my alma mater's quarterly magazine and read about an interdisciplinary program that's underway that sounds like it answers beautifully to the needs that Wagner is seeking, so perhaps higher education isn't being as slow to catch on as he believes (or perhaps my alma mater is near the head of the game, which would be cool). Conclusion Okay, I have rambled enough for now. I just needed to get thoughts written out to help me think them through. If all you do when you see this blog post is read the introduction and the conclusion, do read this: Check out this book. And if you do check out this book, let me know your thoughts. What does Wagner get right? What is Wagner missing? How does this book motivate you to improve? What changes in mentoring and educating does this book inspire in you? Does this book light up your mind and get you thinking as it does me? Now what I need to do is buy the book and mark it up so I can reference it because I think it could give me food for thought for many years.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    "But here's the problem: It is often difficult in our society to 'act differently in order to think differently.' To do so requires radically altering our adult behaviours. When Dyer and Gregersen were interviewed in a blog about their research, Hal Gregersen talked about the loss of creative capacity. 'If you look at 4-year-olds, they are constantly asking questions and wondering how things work. But by the time they are 6 1/2 years old they stop asking questions because they quickly learn that "But here's the problem: It is often difficult in our society to 'act differently in order to think differently.' To do so requires radically altering our adult behaviours. When Dyer and Gregersen were interviewed in a blog about their research, Hal Gregersen talked about the loss of creative capacity. 'If you look at 4-year-olds, they are constantly asking questions and wondering how things work. But by the time they are 6 1/2 years old they stop asking questions because they quickly learn that teachers value the right answers more than provocative questions. High school students rarely show inquisitiveness." (17) "Brad Anderson...told me he does not agree with those who say this generation is unmotivated. He... has found that they are differently motivated. 'Lack of work ethic? That's nuts,' he exclaimed. 'The problem is lack of leadership. Sure, this generation is spoiled in a lot of ways. But they are looking for things to engage and interest them. Many are hyperengaged, but in order for them to commit themselves, the bar is higher. If you can get them engaged, the results are extraordinary. But if you want them to do Henry Ford assembly-line kinds of stuff--where they are expected to show up with their bodies, but not their minds--you won't engage them." (20) "What is intrinsic motivation, then, and how to do we encourage it? Is it merely 'passion and interest,' as Amabile suggests? I don't think so. My research, work as an educator, and experience as a parent suggest that there are three interrelated elements to intrinsic motivation: play, passion, and purpose. Whether--and to what extent--parents, teachers, mentors, and employers encourage these qualities makes an enormous difference in the lives of young innovators." (26) "It is striking, too, that both Shanna and Kirk had experience with a transformational project-based course that was hands-on, interdisciplinary, required teamwork, and encouraged risk-taking. For both, the opportunity to collaborate and build real products with others was the most exciting and motivating part of their education--and something they had never previously experienced. These courses enabled their passions to evolve into a deeper sense of purpose. In the model of how the qualities of innovators are developed that I introduced at the end of the last chapter, the culture of these courses continued to develop their intrinsic motivation, as well as their creative-thinking skills, and expertise." (69) "'I believe very strongly in the idea of a student-directed curriculum,' John told me. 'But I think it has to be structured. So I give students the outcome--which in this case is a report to the administration related to improving the service-learning program, but the students determine how to do the research and what the content of what we call the Green Paper should be. It is extremely rare in a university setting for students to have an opportunity to work on a real project like this. My goal is to make students active participants in their learning--rather than consumers--by giving them the power to make changes.'" (109) "Our education system does not encourage risk-taking and penalizes failure, and too many parents and teachers believe that a 'safe' and lucrative career in business or law or medicine is what young people should strive for--rather than something that has to do with 'changing the world.'" (113) "'The key to success in the future is not what you know, but whether you are able to think and act creatively,' Mitch said. 'Here at the lab, we take our inspiration from the ways people learn in kindergarten, where kids have opportunities to create, design, and build collaboratively. The best way to develop creativity is to design and create things in collaboration with one another. We also find that people do their best work when they are working on things that they care deeply about--when it's their passion. Finally, the work here almost invariably leads our students to cross academic boundaries, just like in kindergarten where finger painting is also about learning how colours mix, which is science, and often the kids will write a story about their painting as well. 'The challenge is to set up systems that allow students to follow their interests. People tend to dichotomize approaches in education: The teacher is either telling students what to do, or standing back and letting them figure it out. I think that's a false choice: The issue is not structure versus no structure, but rather creating a different structure. Students need to be exposed to new ideas and learn how to persist. They also need support.'" (182) "Here again, we see a strong emphasis on collaboration (versus individual achievement); multidisciplinary learning (versus specialization); an emphasis on creating things and student empowerment (versus passively consuming knowledge); encouragement of intellectual risk-taking and trial and error (versus risk avoidance); and finally, a strong emphasis on intrinsic (versus extrinsic) motivation, with the absence of grades and the faculty's focus on encouraging students to pursue their passions." (184) "Here is how the d.school describes its approach: At the d.school, we learn by doing. We don't just ask our students to solve a problem, we ask them to define what the problem is. Students start in the field, where they develop empathy for people they design for, uncovering real human needs they want to address. They then iterate to develop an unexpected range of possible solutions, and create rough prototypes to take back out into the field and test with real people. Our bias is toward action, followed by reflection on personal discoveries about process. Experience is measured by iteration: students run though as many cycles as they possibly can on any project. Each cycle brings stronger insights and more unexpected solutions. (186) "Theory is learned at HTH as a part of an extensive 'action research' project--an inquiry into a particular learning problem that each graduate student identifies in his classroom context and studies intensively during the second year of the program. Results of this research are summarized in a required master's thesis. UVEI students must demonstrate mastery of ten essential competencies in oral presentations and in their e-portfolios. One requires students to 'identify major terms, concepts, and movements of educational practice in the 20th and 21st century and to discuss them in relation to current challenges in student learning.' All UVEI programs are now 'competency-based', meaning that students have to show that they are proficient in the skills and background knowledge that have been identified as essential for each area of certification. Think of this as the scout merit-badge approach to learning, where badges are earned by showing evidence of mastery of specific proficiencies." (192) "As we've seen, the learning culture in all of the schools and programs profiled in this chapter have similar characteristics. They are all organized around the values of: - collaboration - multidisciplinary learning - thoughtful risk-taking, trial and error - creating - intrinsic motivation: play, passion, and purpose In everyday life, the contrasts that I have drawn between the conventional culture of schooling versus the culture in these programs are less stark, of course. It is perhaps not so much a matter of 'either/or' as it is 'both/and'. Both individual and team achievements should be valued in the classroom, as should specialization and multidisciplinary learning. Information must often be 'consumed' before you can create, and risk-avoidance and risk-taking can both be prudent actions, depending on circumstances. The essential point is that education for innovation must be constructed consciously and needs to cultivate the capabilities for collaboration, multidisciplinary inquiry, trial and error, and the creation of new ideas, products, and services. It must also incorporate the intrinsic motivations of play, passion, and purpose in learning." (201) "'CQ [curiosity] plus PQ [passion] is greater than IQ,' Tom observed." (214) "'At the senior management level in far too many companies,' Tom said, 'there is this top-down attitude--the belief that all the worthwhile ideas are created at the top of the organization, and everyone else is just an implementer. The CEOs believe that they are better at everything than anyone else, and if only they had enough arms and legs, then everything would be more successful. 'The free flow of information up and down the organization is critical for innovation, but a top-down management style tends to severely restrict the emergence of any new ideas and inhibits the development of the 'collective wisdom' of the company.'" (229) About the US "Army Learning Concept for 2015": The US Army's competitive advantage directly relates to its capacity to learn faster and adapt more quickly than its adversaries. The current pace of technological change increases the Army's challenge to maintain the edge over potential adversaries. In the highly competitive global learning environment where technology provides all players nearly ubiquitous access to information, the Army cannot risk failure through complacency, lack of imagination, or resistance to change... The objectives in ALC 2015 will require substantial changes in infrastructure and policy; however, the urgency to build a competitive Army learning model cannot wait until 2015. It must begin now. Many of the actions necessary to achieve ALC 2015 goals are within reach, and the first steps must begin immediately to establish a more competitive learning model. All course proponents can start now by taking the following three steps. (1) Convert most classroom experiences into collaborative problem-solving events led by facilitators (vs. instructors) who engage learners to think and understand the relevance and context of what they learn. (2) Tailor learning to the individual learner's experience and competence level based on the results of a pre-test and/or assessment. (3) Dramatically reduce or eliminate instructor-led slide presentation lectures and begin using a blended learning approach that incorporates virtual and constructive simulations, gaming technology, or other technology-delivered instruction. (236)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sandie

    The book was quick and easy to read. The main premise of the book is how to create an innovator, but as previous reviewers have stated...you need to have money. I agree with some of the included ideas...I also don't have TV in my home, my kids read one hour per day including summers, my kids participate in music activities, my kids participate in active/sports activities, and my kids get to play and be kids. Therefore, by the formula presented, my kids will be innovators! I found the cause and e The book was quick and easy to read. The main premise of the book is how to create an innovator, but as previous reviewers have stated...you need to have money. I agree with some of the included ideas...I also don't have TV in my home, my kids read one hour per day including summers, my kids participate in music activities, my kids participate in active/sports activities, and my kids get to play and be kids. Therefore, by the formula presented, my kids will be innovators! I found the cause and effect to be a bit non research based, but I did like that I began to think about some issues and how I present information to my students. I also began to rethink my chosen profession. I always go into situations/books/relationships/etc with "What can I learn from said experience?" I kept this same thought in mind...I did learn some things. I have pondered some ideas. I have adjusted my schema. I did not find this book to be a large time investment which helped me give it 2 stars...had it been more difficult to digest I might have altered the stars down a bit.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    I really enjoyed Creating Innovators. The first section, on STEM innovators, was especially strong. There were great stories and arguments about not getting too locked in to one particular area and about being willing to be flexible. The section on social innovators was less interesting and seemed to focus deeply on a kind of community service kind of perspective. Not that this is a problem, in and of itself, but it did make the point that deeper learning and understanding is, perhaps, undervalu I really enjoyed Creating Innovators. The first section, on STEM innovators, was especially strong. There were great stories and arguments about not getting too locked in to one particular area and about being willing to be flexible. The section on social innovators was less interesting and seemed to focus deeply on a kind of community service kind of perspective. Not that this is a problem, in and of itself, but it did make the point that deeper learning and understanding is, perhaps, undervalued by Wagner. Artists, writers, and the like, are unrepresented in his book and don't seem to have a clear place in his future. However, in his defense, this was not his focus to begin with. This book makes strong arguments for changing education and points out some real deficiencies that do exist. If you are an educator or a parent, this is a must read for an important perspective, even if you don't 100% buy into it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Katie Bliss

    This was an encouraging book to read as a homeschooler since I'm a lot better able to cultivate the type of environment for innovation than other schools. I liked the principles and themes discussed throughout: play, passion, purpose. This can be achieved through letting kids find what they like to do, dig deeper, and then hopefully find more job satisfaction in whatever field they find they can make a difference in. Situations involving collaborative projects were emphasized, rather than promot This was an encouraging book to read as a homeschooler since I'm a lot better able to cultivate the type of environment for innovation than other schools. I liked the principles and themes discussed throughout: play, passion, purpose. This can be achieved through letting kids find what they like to do, dig deeper, and then hopefully find more job satisfaction in whatever field they find they can make a difference in. Situations involving collaborative projects were emphasized, rather than promoting grades and teaching just for the sake of doing well on tests. It definitely presents a challenge, but it made me feel like I can relax and let the kids follow their instincts more when it comes to their own interests and the things that make them happy.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kirk

    This book is a bit outside of my normal reading, but as a parent and an educator I found this book incredibly relevant. I often times need help thinking outside of the box, and Wagner pulls from a number of examples and ideas in rethinking education. The many examples used at times did drag the book down a little. I also do not totally buy in to Wagner's suggestions that students should essentially ignore studies that they do not find compelling. Maybe I still have too much old-school in me to b This book is a bit outside of my normal reading, but as a parent and an educator I found this book incredibly relevant. I often times need help thinking outside of the box, and Wagner pulls from a number of examples and ideas in rethinking education. The many examples used at times did drag the book down a little. I also do not totally buy in to Wagner's suggestions that students should essentially ignore studies that they do not find compelling. Maybe I still have too much old-school in me to believe that discipline is a valuable quality to develop. Nevertheless, Wagner is a good place to start if you are looking to rethink education, which is clearly a current need.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alex T.

    I was introduced to Dr. Wagner's work several years ago when I heard him keynote at an educational conference. I read "The Global Achievement Gap" and then "Most Likely to Succeed" before finally tackling this work. For me, reading "Creating Innovators" was similar to being on a roller coaster: it started slow but continued to pick up speed until I got to the end and felt a little breathless with excitement. As an educator who is going to be working with other educators on implementing innovativ I was introduced to Dr. Wagner's work several years ago when I heard him keynote at an educational conference. I read "The Global Achievement Gap" and then "Most Likely to Succeed" before finally tackling this work. For me, reading "Creating Innovators" was similar to being on a roller coaster: it started slow but continued to pick up speed until I got to the end and felt a little breathless with excitement. As an educator who is going to be working with other educators on implementing innovative ideas in the classroom, I am now full of ideas! My own play has grown into passion that now fuels my purpose!

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