Are some people naturally more creative than others? In the digital economy, creativity and inventiveness can make all the difference. Europe can no longer compete with developing economies in terms of manufacturing and labour costs, but it can still innovate and try to stay ahead of the curve. In order to stay innovative, however, European industries need skilled workers with the right creative spark to turn their crazy dreams into reality. But can that creative spark be taught?
Schools teach young people the rules of society… but rules and creativity don’t always mix. The danger is that formal education institutionalises students, keeping them from thinking “outside the box”. Can clever teachers work around that? How can we encourage our education systems to place a greater emphasis on creativity and innovation?
Want to know more about innovation in Europe’s classrooms? We’ve put together some of the facts and figures into an infographic below (click for a bigger version).
We had a comment sent in from Inyange arguing that if children are taught to use technology at a young age, it will be easier for them to innovate when they are older. But can innovation really be taught, or are some people just naturally more innovative than others? To get a response, we spoke to Prof. Dr. Gesche Joost, Head of the Design Research Lab at the Berlin University of Arts and Germany’s Digital Champion:
I think it’s a mixture. On the one hand, some basic skills can be taught, such as thinking differently and having the courage to be innovative and think beyond the boundaries. But the second thing is that you need a specific environment encourage innovation, and this cannot be taught. You need role models, you need free and open spaces where you can meet people and engage with technology and innovation.
So, you need lessons, teaching, and role models on the one hand, and on the other you need open spaces, environments, and tech labs where you meet people and play around with technology.
For another reaction, we also spoke to Catherine Stihler, a British Labour MEP and e-Skills for Jobs Ambassador. What did she have to say?
Why is it that Silicon Valley became this tech hub in the United States? I think it’s worth considering how important Stanford University was; Google, Hewlett Packard, Yahoo, Cisco, all of them came out of Stanford. It’s interesting that both Google and Facebook talk about their “campuses” to create that atmosphere of innovation, thought, and knowledge. It’s also interesting how important higher education is in that mix…
If we want European citizens to be able to reach their full potential in the knowledge economy and digital space, they need skills. You can use an iPhone, but that doesn’t mean you can code. We need to take the skills agenda much more seriously, including coding and digital literacy…
Can innovation be taught in a classroom? Are some people just born more inventive than others? Or can students learn to be innovative and creative? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!