Nurturing Innovation

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Ryan Dangerfield | Staff Writer | @ryandanger23

Nationally recognized author and education innovator Tony Wagner came to Utah Valley University on March 25 to speak about the United States education system and ways to nurture a person’s capability for innovation.

“There are two kinds of innovation. One type brings new ideas to life. Those are rare and require a combination of unique talent and extraordinary circumstances,” said Wagner. “The other type is creative problem solving which is a capability we are born with and can be taught, nurtured and coached.”

Wagner said he believes that in the 21st century, the innovation era, the competitive advantage is not the education you have, but how you use that education.

“Getting the opportunity to hear Tony Wagner was exciting,” said Kerri Newsom, lecturer in the college of education. “This is why I love being a teacher. I am constantly learning and engaged in trying to teach my students in an innovative way. I would love it if education were structured to use the system that is best for students rather than caring what degrees and titles I have.”

The current evaluation system for a student’s education is multiple choice tests that have very high stakes. The problem with this is that the tests tell us almost nothing of value about our student’s readiness for life in the 21st century. Wagner said the system is accepting bad teaching in hopes of having students pass their tests.

“People learn best when they are intrinsically motivated, when they have curiosity, a real interest in what they are being taught, that develops into a passion,” said Wagner. “Teachers know the importance of keeping a spark of curiosity alive in the classroom, and give students the opportunity to ask their own questions.”

Wagner said In order to develop intrinsic motivation children should be given time to play, and passion and purpose should be encouraged.

“I feel like what Tony Wagner was talking about is not just for a certain age group,” said Heather Jones, UVU junior majoring in Elementary Education. “This great information can be used in almost every setting.”