How can we ensure that young people, who enthusiastically embrace innovation, creating, and coding, also associate their work with the fundamental concepts of empathy, humility, and conscience?
As we adults thrill to help children learn, imagine, ideate, explore, and make things, we also need to define a compelling mission for each of our innovation and maker spaces — a mission that emphasizes the significant values that young people should apply to the problems they identify and try to solve. An innovation mission provides a foundation for children, illuminating important issues and providing benchmarks that help them to consider and choose problems. It should also help young learners differentiate between the significant problems that need to be solved from those that are insignificant.
If you want a perfect example of people coming together — as makers — to work on a critical and life-saving project read the article How a Wedding Dress Maker is Trying to Stop the Spread of Ebola, in the Washington Post. The November 9, 2014 article describes how John Hopkins University biomedical engineers brought together a group of people to generate ideas about how to make a safer and more comfortable protective suit for the medical personnel who care for Ebola patients.
Have you been ever in a work situation where you feel especially old — as younger colleagues occasionally roll their eyes, proudly demonstrating their up-to-the-minute technology skills? Or maybe you’ve seen more experienced workers shoot down younger worker’s ideas. Lots of people in mid and late career periods, well people of all ages really, note these frustrations. It’s not all about age or technology — it’s about working together.
…and guess what?
Teams with differing ages and skills are often the most productive. While technology skills are important, collaborative skills and teamwork are more significant. In today’s fast-changing world, we are spending considerable effort teaching tech-savvy students how to work together with people who have differing perspectives and different kinds of ideas. Twenty-first Century employers are on the lookout for workers who can collaborate.
Sometimes older and more experienced team members offer points of view that add innovative problem-solving puzzle pieces to a team’s project. Younger workers can push limits and eagerly try new things. Older workers can also be skilled mentors. Skilled leadership, the ability to help people form a cohesive team, is a key to success.