Creating Innovators

Guest Correspondence

"We've created an economy based on people spending money they do not have to buy things they may not need, threatening the planet in the process. We have to transition from a consumer-driven economy to an innovation-driven economy," says Tony Wagner, expert in Residence at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab and author of Creating Innovators and The Global Achievement Gap.

As a country, state and local community that is part of a global technology-driven economy, we need to excel in innovation or we will get left behind. This stark reality stresses the need for education to accelerate its rate of change since the classrooms of today are often not aligned with the skills required by tomorrow’s workforce. This was a key topic of discussion during this week’s 2017 Florida Chamber Foundation Learners to Earners Annual Summit. Of all the speakers, I was particularly impressed with Mary O’Hara-Devereaux, a futurist who provoked us to reimagine the future – the future that our children and grandchildren will consider as their today.

Sarasota County students enjoy the advantages of a philanthropic community that appreciates the importance of innovation. Tech active classrooms of tomorrow are now an everyday part of our middle school education, helping foster group learning and critical thinking. Increasing STEM content in our elementary school curriculum continues while engineering and robotics classes that promote project-based learning are being implemented into more area high schools each year. The trend will continue but the pace of innovation within American schools, from early education through post-secondary institutions, is not keeping up with global advances.

If you think the internet changed our world the past decade, imagine the implications artificial intelligence will have on our lives.  We are in the throes of a transformative era where the average life expectancy of a female is predicted to reach 100 years by 2057; 47 percent of jobs will disappear within 25 years; urbanization will create 1 billion new middle-class consumers, 90 percent of which will be in emerging markets, mostly in Asia; and by 2040, technological innovations will outpace humans’ adaptability. It is enough to make anyone’s head spin. Wagner notes that, as a whole, America’s education system focuses on individual achievement, specialization, risk aversion, passive learning and extrinsic incentives.  In conflict, innovation is driven by collaboration across disciplines where failure is often the only path to success.

Thomas Friedman makes a compelling case for the rapid rate of acceleration in his most recent book, Thank You for Being Late, by identifying the significant technological advancements of 2007, which was the year the iPhone was introduced, Facebook launched, Twitter started to scale globally, Google launched the Android and Amazon released the Kindle. Just 10 years later in 2017, Tesla surpassed Ford Motor Company and GM in market capitalization—a company founded less than 15 years ago.

In this era of rapid change and technological advancement, it is incumbent upon us to collectively create the “make or break strategies” asserted by O’Hara-Devereaux during the summit so that we create the comparative human advantage. We need more imagination, more creativity, more collaboration and, perhaps most importantly, a profound elevation in how we value education. The time is now to create innovators and the Education Foundation of Sarasota County is committed to being a driving force in expanding advances being made for our students, teachers and schools. 

Jennifer Vigne is president of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

« View The Saturday Jun 24, 2017 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

What Will Single Member Districts Really Mean?

Among the litany of issues Sarasota County voters consider this year will be whether to switch to single-member districts when electing county commissioners. It’s fairly easy to see why this inspires sharp partisan divide. Democrats lament no one from the blue team has won a seat on the com

Jacob Ogles | Oct 13, 2018

District 72 Remains Region's Hottest House Race

An unexpected contest and surprising upset this year turned state House District 72 into the center of the political world in February. This November, voters weigh in again, and while the race this time will be one of many in the region, it remains one of the marquis battles in the region.

Jacob Ogles | Sep 22, 2018

Letting Go at Ringling

We have had the great pleasure at Ringling College of Art and Design this past week of welcoming the largest incoming freshman class in the history of our institution. That’s right, over 500 new young people, representing 42 different states and 30 diverse countries, arrived in Sara

Dr. Larry Thompson | Aug 25, 2018

Good and Graham Swinging for Glass Ceiling

As the woman who could become Florida’s first female governor stumped in Sarasota this week, she turned to the region’s biggest Democratic star for a boost. State Rep. Margaret, D-Sarasota, took the stage at the Francis Thursday to throw her personal support behind gubernatorial candi

Jacob Ogles | Jul 28, 2018