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What makes us stop thinking outside the box? What makes us take the safe and tried path? Does it start at school? Does an information and exam based system with little room for experimentation and exploration kill our creativity? When does this happen?
Sitting in meetings I have often noticed employees prefer to copy and tweak an existing presentation, solution or concept rather than start with a blank canvas. What we, therefore, end up with lacks the ingenuity that results in great innovations. Without original thought and innovation, we cannot create great companies.
India is in dire need of a generation of innovators and collaborators to fuel growth. Make in India, without “Innovate in India”, will have a limited impact. For this, we need to start with children- with the youth! We need to start at schools and even in our homes. We often discourage children to take risks and try out new things. We like to choose the safe path for ourselves and we choose this for them too. Encouraging creative thought is what will help kids succeed tomorrow – hence, we must change as parents and as educators.
And that’s what we did this year. We focused on innovation. Over the year, we have worked with children across schools and at our centre, encouraging them to create and innovate. Children inherently have incredible ideas and are keen to experiment. They enjoyed the process.
#21Innovate saw innovations that varied from technology apps, making coolers from junk to square wheels and classroom storage solutions. A little government school in Delhi came up with a solution that is difficult to forget because of its simplicity. Their problem – they struggled every morning and lost time looking for the duster and chalk. Often this was missing and hence, an expense that the school could not afford. A team got together and designed a duster that attached to the wall and had springs that allowed it to move across the board. They also created a little collection system that accumulated all the chalk dust that they then recycled to make new chalk.
Simple! Creative! And it solved a problem. Yes, children are natural innovators and love it.
Can we push innovation further through the curriculum and help them structure their thoughts better? We worked with two teams over a week – introduced them to the concept of design thinking, and using the process for creating new ideas. We then challenged them to create a game design using the process. With a better understanding of customer empathy, the brainstorming process and design, they were able to create more structured and sophisticated ideas that finally resulted in a prototype. Their ideas were of high quality. We are, in fact, now seeking investors to take one of the games to the market. Voila, innovation at school!
Children are ready! Now, all we need is more of you to join us and help create the next generation of thinkers and innovators. Come, let’s collaborate for a better tomorrow.