(The article was original published at Moon Light Magazine for Sep – Oct 2018 edition. The magazine can be accessed – https://joom.ag/kkia. This is reproduced with permission of the Managing Editor Ms. Priyamoni Debnath)
Mankind can only progress if the mind is to be progressive. To be progressive thinkers one needs to innovate and take risks, how could we help child to be so? Unlike couple of decades ago upbringing was focused on making a good human being where personality fetched more brownie points over today’s expectation among children who (often) forced to chase never-ending quest for achievements. Earlier children had limited space to innovate because of hand-to-mouth economics. Children often are forced to work on standardized tests. These measurements likely to create a situation of difficulty to be innovators in future. These standardized tests are often evaluated like binary 0 or 1 where getting answers become focus.
According to author Wagner’s1 book, Creating Innovators says, ‘An average a child asks 100 questions a day. But around 10 or 12 age, child understands the importance of right answers than asking questions.’
How do we help child to balance both? Is it a right question to ponder? Or Is creative has to do with asking questions? In a classroom or on coffee table talks one often consumes information either through force (uniformity because of curriculum) or belief system. Parents and teachers could bring sense of play where child could play multiple role as thinkers, innovators and problem solvers. Parents and teachers could help to connect to the basics that child has come across in a course work. It might seem fun for a child.
One of such introduction to schools and home is STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). This inter-disciplinary approach will help in fueling the curious mind to focus on understanding how to bring the multiple things together. This will foster several skills either working individuals or in a group. Skills that are in demand such as creativity, communication and collaboration. STEM is applicable to languages, history or anything else. This is to help individual to educate and personalize learning. It can be referred as STEAM, where ‘A’ refers to Arts.
Dale Dougherty2 summed up very neatly in his TED talk at TED@Motorcity 2011, we are makers. He believes that each individual contributes through making something. They not necessarily have real significant to everyone but it could be for oneself. Author Drew Boyd also believes that children can learn systematic creativity at early age. He uses five techniques of Systematic Inventive Thinking. He pinpoints that by creating a model (prototype) that is already been invented, this is success. Because by repeating a successful model, one could invent new and useful. His teaching to children also emphasis on two direction of innovation: solution-to-problem and problem-to-solution.
Children’s innovation projects could lead to fearlessness to try new and take risk. Understanding dimensions to innovation can create a great sense of purpose in young minds. This sense of belonging is like play with crayons or clays. Parents and teachers can make a big deal in raising kids if engagements are through story telling or play. Such group activities will make children believe that each one are working toward the same goal. This will open doors to abstract thinking like intuitive sense. Children likes working together, as it unites people in purposeful and meaningful ways.
One of such exceptional is Shubam Banerjee3, while he was 12 year created braigo, braille printer for less price. The likely scenario incase children are not given innovation ecosystem is like, ‘remolding for regular production.’
With technology like mobile and computers being necessity, clubbing several components like building blocks, electronics and programming is leading to several innovative prototyping in the field of STEM. Robotics is not just about STEM. It’s an ecosystem that children are required to equip with life skills like leadership, communication, entrepreneurship and exchanging ideas with people around the world, (for example, YouTube).
Does it mean, can innovation be taught in a classroom or home? According Dr. Prashanth P. Gowda, Consultant Pediatrician and Neonatologist says, ‘Innovation can’t be taught but one can train mind and lay foundation to be innovative. It needs a free mind, free of fear, free of stress, free to think, the way a child want. At times, there is a need of push to get that focus about what the child would do.’
As much knowledge was looked up handful years ago but now what one does and how is it done counts to collaborate. Now children demand an ecosystem of empowerment as creators with teachers and parents.
Innovative projects such as agro-robo prototyped by few batch of students using QtPi Robotics kit have evolved and is an answer to the approach: problem-to-solution and solution-to-problem. An agro-robo which has a moisture sensor to check the moisture value in the soil. Based on the characteristics of soil and quantity of water for individual crop growth, it can be optimized. This could be a boon to agrarian economy. Additional the same robot could be used for tiling, sowing, watering and sprinkling fertilizers.
Changing paradigm in the way food is and will be grown or delivery of goods, the way we connect to others, spend money etc., STEM is evolving and transforming individuals lives. A trend that is going to be ‘Robotics for All’ to drive the future.
Understanding the intrinsic motivation of child one is allowing it to be more innovative. The key factor lies in innovation. Showing and allowing the child to develop ways to solve existing problems makes STEAM exciting. As we understand that children can quiz the problem, note the observations, discuss with mentors or use the other resources to forecast the prediction that seem solvable. Such process adds skills like analysis, synthesis and evaluation. These indicates value added to oneself and it’s a new level. It is often difficult to predict the future industries but indicator of automation is for several nations. Schools and individuals of developing nations need to embrace and integrate STEM into their curriculum. The integration being a key word is to engage child with science in new ways. Let’s not forget on wisdom words by Rabindranath Tagore, “Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he is born in another time.”
- Creating Innovators, Tony Wagner, Scribner, 2012
- Dale Dougherty, We are makers, TED talk at TED@Motorcity, 2011
- Photograph with permission QtPi Robotics