10 Secrets to Raising Innovative Children
10 Secrets to Raising Innovative Children
By Stephen Di Biase, Ph.D.
Raising innovative children is the greatest gift a parent can give their children because innovators know how to solve problems leading to a better life.
As a parent, I find it exhilarating when our children deal with life's problems on their own, and better than I would have done. This is the reason for writing "10 Secrets to Raising Innovative Children" - is to help parents, especially moms, to be more effective in teaching their children to become problem solvers.
This is an easy and fun to read, useful treatment on the topic containing insights, web links and most of all good common sense advice which is often not so common.
10 SECRETS FOR RAISING INNOVATIVE CHILDREN
No one is prepared for parenting: It’s a “learning on the job” experience, and as such, it’s not uncommon for the first offspring to be an “experiment” followed by improvements should additional offspring arrive. Now given innovation is a mystery in its own right raising innovative children becomes almost an inconceivable challenge. However, this should not be the case.
Innovation is like the weather: It’s widely discussed, poorly understood while being critically important. Much has been written about how innovation drives competitiveness be it as a person, community, business or country and is critical to increasing our quality of life
So how does one approach these two complicated topics parenting, and innovation, when they have such an important impact on our lives? Perhaps an old adage is useful: “how does one eat an elephant?” The obvious answer is: one bite at a time. What this suggests is in both parenting and innovation can be broken down into the simplest elements then combining them providing a roadmap for raising innovative children. This is what I’ve attempted to do with “10 Steps for Raising Innovative Children".
The first question, one should raise is, why begin with “raising children”? It’s clear that only humans can innovate and that innovation can be taught, learned and mastered like any discipline. In fact, it can be as easy as learning to ride a bicycle and once learned it’s never forgotten. Most importantly it’s clear that our educational system is perfectly designed to destroy a person’s natural tendencies to innovate.
My approach in writing this book is to integrate good parenting and teaching innovative behaviors into 10 easy to understand and use ideas.
My work is designed to be easily applicable in the real world of very busy parents, especially overwhelmed moms. The examples empower parents to quickly try new things, merging their roles as parents and teachers of innovation, using their home and family environments as the classrooms. The goal is to re-evaluate how parenting is done in the context of teaching innovation while building on what parents are already doing.
The basic elements of innovation are simple. First it’s important to realize that all human beings are born with the ability to innovate. Innovation in its simplest definition is a human response to change creating something valuable in the present. Studying Darwin’s work suggests that all living entities adapt to change, but only humans can do it intelligently.
So creating an innovative environment in which to raise children requires parents to be sensitive to their children’s curiosity and imagination and create experiences which cultivate responses to the changes they encounter. This alone, when done intentionally, will begin children along the path to becoming innovators. Of course, it’s easy to make this topic much more complex than it needs to be. The “10 Secrets to Raising Innovative Children” is dedicated to simplicity.
Good parenting begins with a deep and genuine love for children. Without genuine love, nothing herein will work. More importantly, parental love is a powerful incentive for doing what’s necessary to raise innovative children. Love drives parents to make sacrifices, a critical ingredient to successful child rearing.
So the critical question becomes: “How do parents display their love in specific circumstances allowing their children to thrive in an innovative environment”? My “10 Easy Steps to Raising Innovative Children” answers this question with generic examples that are readily understood and easily applied.
My approach contrasts some approaches where the experiences of specific people are used to define the rule. This rarely works since these examples are hard to customize to the average parental experience. This is especially true when the examples involve the “endowed class” of wealthy families. My intent is for “10 Easy Steps to Raising Innovative Children” to work for any socioeconomic class regardless of education. Raising children to be innovators is intuitive and common sense.
My expectation is that the journey of raising innovative children will have the unanticipated value of making parenting more enjoyable and in the process making the parents themselves more innovative.
This is important because everyone is driven by their own self-interest. If parents benefit from raising innovative children, by becoming more innovative themselves, they should be motivated to engage the process with more passion.
Finally, I will close the work with a description of a very successful educational experiment in Chicago known as The Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC). AGC is a successful educational platform which combines the elements of both public and private schools into a format that meets the needs of inner-city students.
The program has been in place for several years starting with kindergarten and finishing with high school. The executive director of AGC has convinced the Chicago School District to invest in this approach on a larger scale as a model for what the school system might be someday. Obviously the exception does not make the rule but having a successful example makes it much easier to replicate successful experiments.
The AGC example is a counter balance to the general belief that the formal educational experience in the United States does everything possible to destroy the natural innovative tendencies we all have by squelching inquiry in favor of rote memorization. Unfortunately, the evidence is clear: We do educate our children how not to be innovative and we do it with “excellence”.
The majority of this book is to help parents educate their children in ways that stimulate their natural innovative abilities to blossom. In doing so, parents make their children “natural problem solvers” who will entire adulthood well prepared for whatever they encounter. Parents capable of doing this are unqualified successes by any measure.
 See Eric D. Beinhocker, The Origin of Wealth: Evolution,Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics, Boston,MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2006; and Nick Hanauerand Eric Liu, The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government, Seattle, WA: Sasquatch Books, 2011.
 See Tony Wagner, Creating Innovators, The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, Scribner, April, 2012.