Friday, June 8, 2012

Play, Passion and Purpose

I am wrapping up Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, By Tony Wagner. What a great read! Play, Passion and Purpose was referenced throughout the book.  Wagner found that all the young innovators he interviewed were allowed to develop the three P's.  What I found alarming is that almost half of them could not name a single teacher who had been truly helpful to them.

"Research shows that human beings are born with an innate desire to explore, experiment and imagine new possibilities - in a word, to Innovate." - Tony Wagner
Wagner goes further with stating the importance of creating opportunities for unstructured play.  As parents we tend to over parent when our students are playing.  That is where the creativity begins at an early age.  Allowing children to experiment and play away from TV and other devices is important for their development .  I personally am worried that we will continue to squeeze the creative juices out of students with the current state of standardization of schools.  Creative and innovative kids are disruptive in school they typically struggle due to all the rules.  I don't blame teachers, we have to follow a specific set of standards.  It is what it is, but how can we empower and grow innovators in our current state of affairs?


Passion is the intrinsic motivation in all of us.  Parents kill the right passion in kids.  I find myself doing this already.  I was involved extensively in athletics and my hope early on was that my children would have the same passion that I have for athletics.  My daughter is five years old and she couldn't be less interested in teeball and soccer.  I understand that I can't force her to like something, she must have passion or intrinsic motivation to do something.  It is our job as parents and educators to unlock that passion.  How do we unlock and allow for passion to develop in students?

"I observe that young innovators almost invariably develop passion to learn or do something as adolescents, but their passions evolve through learning and exploration into something far deeper, more sustainable, and trustworthy - Purpose." - Tony Wagner  
"These young people played a great deal - but their play was frequently far less structured than most children's, and they had opportunities to explore, experiment, and discover through trial and error - to take risks and to fall down." - Tony Wagner 
The other day I was in a school and part of their mission statement was, "Failure is not and option."  How are we to encourage risk taking if we say that failure is no longer an option.  This thinking is a killer of creativity and innovation.

This book has been a great read, and something that all educators should take a look at. More importantly parents need to read it.  Most schools are locked into accountability and do not take the time to encourage Play, Passion, and Purpose.  It may be up to you to give your children those much needed experiences.

How do we develop innovators and encourage creativity for students that are less fortunate???