INNOVATION LEADERSHIP

GE Innovation
Student interns at GE Inspection Technologies

“The ability to creatively combine and apply various bodies of knowledge in new and more powerful ways is becoming of greater and greater significance. In other words, it’s not just about knowledge, but about what you do with it.”

I shared this insight by innovation consultant Todd Johnston in a recent blog, “Who Designs the Future,” after I discovered the quote in an Forbes article written by Victor W. Hwang. Johnston and Hwang, both based on the West Coast, offered kind words of support when I requested permission to feature them in my blog.

Across the nation, great minds are thinking about the role purposeful, practical innovation plays in creating new business opportunities and encouraging personal, economic and social growth. It is important that everyone embrace the idea that we all are in positions to lead innovation.

Knowledge originates outside of “think tanks” and corporate research and development departments. Creativity is not held exclusively by artists; it’s an option anyone can choose.  People who do things – in every type of art, craft and industry imaginable – turn ideas into action every day.

Plastics2
Industry experts gather at Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Plastics Innovation and Resource Center

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WHO DESIGNS THE FUTURE?

little girl gallery

“All children are born geniuses; 9,999 out of every 10,000 are swiftly, inadvertently degeniusized by grownups.” – R. Buckminster Fuller

How do we keep the genius alive in our children? By helping them develop skills and expertise in activities they enjoy — even when those interests are different from our own.

With encouragement, creative children and teens – who doodle on their homework papers and imagine their own worlds instead of following in their classmates’ footsteps – might become leading designers and innovators in the future.

Design is a viable career field. Examples of design are everywhere: buildings, devices, websites, vehicles, and billboards. Even tools and machines that make all these items are products that originated in someone’s imagination. Continue reading WHO DESIGNS THE FUTURE?

CONNECTIONS INSPIRE

K12
K-12 students and educators visit Penn College

“Education is not a problem. Education is an opportunity.”

Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th president of the United States, offered this declaration decades ago and it still rings true today. Beyond all the challenges, regulations, standards and political rhetoric, education is an incredible privilege.

It is more than mandatory attendance for students and more than state and national standards that teachers feel pressured to meet. Education is not a life sentence; it is a lifetime benefit.

Mandatory does not have to mean boring. So, let’s not allow ideas of what we “must do” overwhelm our natural desires to learn and to teach. Education is good for us and it is something we all can enjoy. Continue reading CONNECTIONS INSPIRE

VINTAGE INSPIRATION

 

Rose Valley School
Rose Valley School near Trout Run, PA, 1966

Many believe the good old days of “Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic” are lost forever in the bygone era of one-room schoolhouses. The truth is: inspired educators continue to help students connect the three “R’s” with 21st century education and workplace needs.

In partnership with WVIA Public Media, Pennsylvania College of Technology salutes such educational initiatives in a new public television series called Working Class. I am proud to serve as an executive producer of the series.

My interest in encouraging public support for education that combines academics and practical learning was first inspired by my experiences as a child who attended one of the last public, one-room schoolhouses in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.

First grade
The author as a first grader at Rose Valley School

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GENIUS & HANDS-ON WORK

Williamsport, PA, vocational class, early 20th century
Williamsport, PA, vocational class, early 20th century

Labels — descriptive or identifying words or phrases — can change our perceptions and impact our life choices.

Vocation – a word that originated from the Latin “to call” – describes, according to Oxford Dictionaries, “a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation.” Over time, lawmakers and educators assigned a more narrow definition to this word, which once carried the dignity of a calling into one’s chosen career. Today, “vocational” is a term used to describe the teaching of technical or trade skills.

I would like to suggest that, while the origin of the word “vocational” was inclusive, this label now is divisive. Educators too often divide students into “academic” versus “vocational” categories and assume the students have different needs. In fact, all students benefit from a combination of hands-on learning and academic study.

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OLD TALE, NEW STORY

How can we — as parents, educators and adult mentors — inspire students to stay on course for greater job satisfaction?

I recently read an American Psychological Association article that relates an old tale to a report that suggests only 30% of Americans feel engaged at work, while the other 70% “are more likely to steal from their organizations, negatively influence co-workers and drive customers away.”

bricks

As the tale goes, three bricklayers are asked to describe their work. The first says, “I’m putting one brick on top of another.” His focus is on the task. The second says, “I’m making six pence an hour.” His concern is pay. The third says, “I’m building a cathedral.” He is invested in the outcome of his labor.

timeclockboy

Like the bricklayers who described work as a task rewarded by pay, people whose jobs do not connect with their personal interests often end up adrift in a sea of negativity.

Continue reading OLD TALE, NEW STORY