“There’s no competitive advantage today in knowing more than the person next to you. The world doesn’t care what you know. What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know.”
- Tony Wagner
In his book, ”Creating Innovators“ , Wagner points that USA’s economic problems are rooted in its education system. He believes that the present culture of schooling is at odds with the culture of learning that produces innovators and is stunting innovation.
Schools focus on individual achievement and specialization is celebrated and rewarded. But innovation is a team sport. The challenges , the problems we face are too complex to be solved individually or within a particular subject content or context.We need a cross disciplinary approach and have to explore problems and their solutions from multiple perspectives.
And then extrinsic incentives drive learning and risk aversion is the norm. “We penalize mistakes,” says Wagner. A’s and F’s are carrots and stick. The whole challenge in schooling is to figure out what the teacher wants. And the teachers have to figure out what the superintendent wants or the state wants. It’s a compliance-driven, risk-averse culture. We follow because we are told to do so by followers who are told to do so by others with everyone believing that someone somewhere in charge knows where it's leading to.
Innovation, on the other hand, is grounded in being intrinsically motivated, taking risks and learning via trial and error. According to Wagner, the school system can’t be mend in it’s present state. No new processes or updated manuals can save it. “The system has become obsolete. It needs reinventing, not reforming.”