Skip to content

US vs China Parents – What skills do children need to be innovative?

During a recent meeting I attended with educators and government officials, I shared my frustration with the “output” of the current educational system. In my opinion, we optimized the system to produce graduates with deep technical skills and the ability to take tests. One competency that I see mis

Phil McKinney
Phil McKinney
2 min read
US vs China Parents – What skills do children need to be innovative?

During a recent meeting I attended with educators and government officials, I shared my frustration with the “output” of the current educational system. In my opinion, we optimized the system to produce graduates with deep technical skills and the ability to take tests. One competency that I see missing in our children is the ability to apply creative problem-solving skills to any given problem.

The Creative Economy

If you believe, as I, that we are experiencing the transition to the creative economy, the ability to train future employees with innovation skills will determine the winners and losers for organizations and countries. Those with a workforce without innovation skills will be relegated to being producers rather than creators.

I don't want to sound like I'm blaming educators. The ultimate responsibility falls on the parents for the education and training of their children.  So what skills should parents ensure their kids? A recently published report based on the Newsweek-Intel Innovation Survey shows that US and China parents don't agree on what skills are critical for children to have when it comes to innovation.

china us parents children creativity innovation

So, what are these critical skills?

Creative Thinking/Problem-Solving Skills: Children need to be taught how to think rather than how to memorize. It's not about finding the one right answer for a test but instead the ability to search out all the possible answers to a question to find the optimal solution. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills should not be a stand-alone subject but taught across all subjects. For example, thinking through the range of options a given historical figure faced and then determining what would have been the alternative outcomes. Did that person make the right decision?

Entrepreneurial Skills: It is no longer about having deep expertise in an area but also having a broad understanding of how an idea is transformed into innovation. Understanding the structure, steps, and running of an organization is a fundamental skill that everyone needs to have.

Cultural Understanding:  The world is flat and getting flatter. The ability to understand and collaborate with a global ecosystem of employees, partners, and customers is a table stake. Without them, you are at a distinct disadvantage that will become more severe.

What are parents to do?

Find opportunities for your kids to gain the experience and skills needed to win the emerging economy. Get them involved in Junior Achievement so they understand business and how to be an entrepreneur. Get them on a FIRST team so they learn how to invent, create and collaborate. Put them in situations where they have to work with others from different cultures, such as an international internship.

While we as a society need to change the educational system to ensure we are producing the best employees possible, it's the parents that can have the most positive and immediate impact on instilling innovation skills.

What jobs will they be ready for when the creative economy takes over?

BlogCase StudiesCreative Kidschildrencreativitycritical thinkingeducationentrepreneurInnovationparentsskills

Phil McKinney Twitter

Phil McKinney is an innovator, podcaster, author, and speaker. He is the retired CTO of HP. Phil's book, Beyond The Obvious, shares his expertise and lessons learned on innovation and creativity.

Comments


Related Posts

Members Public

Too Big to Fail? Think Again

It is dangerous to believe that an organization is immune to failure because of its size. Historical evidence proves that size and market dominance are no safeguards against failure. Success is earned by adaptability, innovation, and a relentless commitment to meeting changing demands.

Too Big to Fail? Think Again
Members Public

The Hidden Price of Tomorrow's Innovations

In the quest for a tech utopia, what shadows lurk behind innovation's glow? What are the untold costs and narratives masked in progress? We need to take a balanced perspective on technological utopianism so that we have a future that is not just bright but also truly beneficial for all.

The Hidden Price of Tomorrow's Innovations
Members Public

Is Boredom the Silent Muse?

Unlock creativity through boredom? Our fast-paced lives fear silence, but stillness may be the key to focus and innovation. What should you do? Embrace boredom, reclaim your attention, and unlock your full potential.

A man walkin the woods deep in thought