Innovation and creativity are without doubt the skills that has made human beings progress over time. It was the birth of new ideas that led to various technological advancements. While one might view technology as mostly electronic objects, technology is anything that helps us solve problems we face in our lives. Therefore, technology has been developing since prehistoric times, and it improves with time because of the experimenting nature of human beings. The innate curiosities within human beings have led us to new and better ideas and innovations. Therefore, thinking, questioning, exploring and problem solving were skills that used to be encouraged in schools and other learning centers. Many successful people like Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs have succeeded thanks to their brilliant, creative and innovative minds.
However, today’s youth is increasingly pressured to conform to the standardized form of education practiced throughout the country. The challenges of learning have been observed to get tougher and tougher with time. Today students’ lives are focused on standardized test results and piles of homework. The problem of standardization is that it deprives children of their creativity. The children are encouraged to give right answers rather than to think and question. Reproducing what is taught to them does not necessarily require them to comprehend and think about what they are learning. Students who score well in tests are encouraged, while those who voice thoughtful questions or those who think outside the box are rebuked. Students therefore, prefer the safe, tried and tested methods, of study. They are hence discouraged from taking the risk of being wrong and this limits their creativity and innovation skills.
In this era, creative thinking and innovation is as important as ever. In this period of fast paced changes, the future economic growth and progress depends on innovation. It is also extremely difficult to predict what future jobs will be. The existing jobs may not be required in the future, and new career options will arise with time. Therefore, educating the young generation in the current education system does not yield successful careers for them. The students need to thus be more creative and innovative in their education, and it is the responsibility of teachers and parents to encourage it. The focus should not be on outcome driven studies, but on fun, risk-oriented, random, and activity based studies that propel the child to ponder, analyze, question, solve and create. We should relax on data driven thinking and let students imagine and be creative.
Curriculum like STEM encourage such creativity and innovation skills. STEM education is a very important means of making students innovative and productive in their endeavors. There are several aspects of STEM education that promote student advancement by encouraging them to ask questions, develop critical thinking skills, analyze data, learn from hands on experiments and projects, find interdisciplinary linkages, persist in problem solving even at the risk of failure, work collaboratively, learn good communication skills and strengthen research skills. Scientific study has evolved with the help of errors and resulting corrections. Making students understand that being wrong is also a part of learning is crucial today. The hands on learning practiced in STEM curriculum encourages them to not fear mistakes and learn from them. It motivates them to think up out of the box solutions. Creativity is acknowledged in this curriculum and thus students gain confidence in their innovative skills. This also helps bring about a true passion for the subjects within students. The projects and presentations within the curriculum give students the chance to not only evolve their creative thinking and innovation, but also to act upon them and develop their ideas. Working on their ideas also help students take note of real life challenges that they may have overlooked during planning.
Another significant feature of the present education system that prevents wholesome development of the students is the teacher-lead classrooms. In such scenarios, students are passive receptors and there is no spaces for the student to self develop. In STEM education, students are encouraged to self learn and teachers observe and help them. When students make their own questions, it helps the teachers grasp the students’ understanding of the concepts. It also ensures that students are active in their learning and that they are thinking about what they are learning. By encouraging students to come up with questions, and then helping them find the answers on their own develops their thinking skills and analytical skills. It is necessary to develop these skills since they prepare kids for facing real world problems during their careers.
The design thinking methods used in STEM learning is also aimed to unleash creativity and explore innovative solutions in the context of group discussion and brain storming. The value accorded to team work in STEM learning not only teaches students to work together and communicate with each other, but also helps bring about better ideas that result from the collaboration of individual thoughts. New ideas and new approaches lead to concepts that are innovative and imaginative and STEM therefore is the ideal platform for students to develop their ideas and bring them to real life.
The significance of innovation in the present and in the future is evident and encouraging innovation in children is vital. STEM learning inspires creativity in children and enables them to act on their ideas and learn about them first hand. The offbeat approaches of STEM learning make learning interesting, fun, and memorable. Best innovations arise from passionate people and by nurturing the children’s innate curiosity through STEM education; they became passionate about their subjects. When students realize the relevancy of their studies in everyday life, they come to understand that their studies is not just for scoring well on the next test, but also to apply in real life. Such an outlook fosters their passion and creativity. The importance of encouraging students to become future innovators and the vital role STEM plays in achieving this cannot hence be overlooked.
We at STEMCHAMP provide an activity based school curriculum which reinstate the practical skills of a kid and helps him to realize his dreams and inventions and to turn out his illusions into reality. Every kid has the capability to become a future innovator and we strive our best to encourage it.
1. 5 Ways To Encourage Kids To Grow Up To Be Innovators- by Gwen Moran (https://www.fastcompany.com)
2. 5 Ways You Can Encourage Your Kids To Become Innovators- by Jessica Stillman (http://www.inc.com)
3. How to Turn Your Kids Into the Innovators of Tomorrow- by Cristal Glangchai (https://www.themuse.com)
4. 10 Tips to Achieve Creativity and Innovation in Education- by Rafiq Elmansy (http://www.designorate.com)
5. Innovation And Stem Education- By Drs. Lynne Holt, David Colburn, And Lynn Leverty (http://www.bebr.ufl.edu)