Touching Tomorrow Today

Touching Tomorrow Today    Intro – This is the end of the world as we know it Current economic situation – everything now seen from that lens. Obama p...
Author: Wilfrid Barnett
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Touching Tomorrow Today    Intro – This is the end of the world as we know it Current economic situation – everything now seen from that lens. Obama presidency – hope, change, innovation, - not just platitudes – values that will be necessary to our well-being if not survival Canada is, interestingly, well-positioned to take advantage of opportunities….. …..As Roger Martin of the Rotman School expressed about the general economy, at a January 2000 International Productivity Conference in Ottawa, “It is imperative that Canadian firms and governments turn their backs resolutely on a culture of replication and instead embrace innovation, uniqueness and differentiation. Only by shifting from a replication economy to an innovation-driven economy will Canada prosper in the 21st century.” (from Michael Sabia speech)

  • In the past, our economy in Canada :  o has relied on the wealth of our natural resources…logging, mining;  o has relied on the strength of our manufacturing and construction;  and   o has been grounded on trading and exporting our raw materials and  goods internationally and to the US    • Canada is now evolving into a knowledge‐based economy:  o Service industries now employ three out of four Canadians.  o More and more, Canadians work in offices, stores or warehouses  rather than farms, mines, mills or factories    • We knew we could not continue as a resource based economy, and we  were starting to change our economic focus, but the financial crisis has  accelerated our need to move quicker into the knowledge base    • Our strength and our future is our young people and how we are educating  them    • We have been educating our young people to have the skills and  competencies towards jobs in the old economy, for example, to:  o Manage large companies in resource based industries and in  manufacturing, construction; and   o Develop technologies to support these resource based and  manufacturing economies 

  • Our future is demanding different skills, knowledge and attitudes from our  young people:    o It is demanding workers who will be self‐employed, self‐motivated,  managing small businesses     o

In order for Canada to be competitive, we must do better in ensuring that our students perform at the highest levels in mathematics, science (from Michael Sabia) and technology

  o It is demanding workers who need to be innovative and   entrepreneurial in enterprises big and small:    o In the words of Richard Florida and Roger Martin (their recent report  to the Ontario Premier, February 2009…Ontario in the Creative Age)     … our economy is  in the midst of a great transformation ‐ to an  economy in which creativity, skills, and knowledge matter more  than strength and muscle    o This is the challenge to us, as leaders in government, education and  business.      What can we do to meet this challenge?      I suggest that, together, we need to do the following 5 things….    1. We need to grow, nurture, and develop young people who have the skills of  creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.     ……The challenge for our schools is to engage children as they grow to acquire the skills and knowledge that will equip them to take their place in a globally competitive world. Without access to knowledge and information and the skills to integrate that knowledge into their lives young people become marginalized and are unable to be fully contributing citizens of a democratic society…..

     

The evidence of the importance of this action is there….    ƒ ….entrepreneurial behavior continues to fuel the engine of  innovation and growth around the world.  United States  entrepreneurs have created most of the 6.8 million new jobs  since 2003, according to the 8th annual Global  Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) by Babson College and  London Business School.      ƒ ….60% of the jobs in this century will require skills that only  20% of the workforce current has.     • But what does being “innovative, creative and entrepreneurial minded “‐‐ mean?   It means that:    o You need to act as a change agent  o You need to alter your way of thinking – approaching a challenge in a  different way – not “out of the box”, but in a way where “there is no  box”  o You need a an attitude of “can‐do”  o You need to seek out innovative opportunities by researching, and  knowing how to manage risk  o Your creativity needs to be grounded in lateral thinking, and  opportunity spotting,  o You need to know how to work in teams, communicating and  collaborating  o You need to be able to work in a world of lightning speed  communication  ‐‐‐ have to respond quickly to emerging issues, be  flexible, see change as "desirable    How can you teach those skills to our young people?    o

“This is a story about the big public conversation the nation is not having about education…whether an entire generation of kids will fail to make the grade in the global economy because they can’t think their way through abstract problems, work in teams, distinguish good information from bad, or speak a language other than English.” How to Build a Student for the 21st Century, TIME Magazine, December 18, 2006

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Innovating in education is at least as challenging as in many private sector companies and industries, and is just as crucial to the national innovation agenda. (from Michael Sabia)

  o Tom Friedman, in his book, The World is Flat, makes the point that:  (is this from the World is Flat or from Hot, Flat and Crowded?)

  The specifics of course content and technical skills that will relevant to  surviving in the 21st century are constantly evolving and shifting. The  information is all out there somewhere.  The only constant is the  necessity for alert vigilance in identifying and honing the skills and  knowledge that will keep us in the personal business of making a living.      The trick is to have the learning skills, curiosity and passion to go get it.  Because of the competiveness of the modern world locally or globally,  we must all be entrepreneurs whether we have a formal business of our  own or work within an enterprise.  Our productive role in the value chain  of life is a moving target. The heart of preparing young people for tomorrow is the fostering of  curiosity and passion for learning.     The challenge for the education system is to create learning  environments that are engaging, where students are exposed to modern  technologies to facilitate the learning, but even more importantly their  curiosity is piqued to develop a love for learning.     Good teachers are at the heart of that spark. They either nurture or  dowse the flame.    The education system plays a significant role in the development of young people insofar as their skills, attitudes, their work habits. But the education system must also play a critical role in the development of young people as caring, compassionate members of our complex society. (from Michael Sabia)

     

2. As leaders in business, education and government, we need to be creative in  how we educate our young people to have these skills.   

A definition of 21st Century skills includes: learning and innovation skills, core subjects and 21st century themes, and life and career skills; information, media and technology skills. …….college students, workers, and citizens must be able to solve multifaceted problems by thinking creatively; to evaluate and analyze information; to generate original ideas from multiple sources of information…..From The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

“The innovation required to establish and adopt best practice in the classroom to meet those standards needs both the hearts and minds of the people on the front line of the delivery system. And innovation requires the time for teachers to collaborate on thinking through and designing the kind of classroom learning practices that will deliver the desired results. …….technology will be an integral enabling factor in facilitating innovation by enhancing the capability both of teachers to teach and of students to learn. Current application in both spheres is still in its infancy in both breadth and depth of impact.” (from Michael Sabia)

• Some countries are already moving in this direction:     o A report issued in 2008 by the Kaufmann Foundation, which finances  programs that promote innovation on campus, noted that there are  now more than 5000 entrepreneurship courses offered, up from 250  in 1985    o The EU Commission has made entrepreneurship education a central  aim of its Entrepreneurship Strategic Action Plan      3. We cannot afford to have young people drop out of science, technology and  math; access to technology as a learning tool is critical as a means of  knowledge acquisition:    o In the United States there are over 14,000 school boards that are  leading innovative partnerships to improve the teaching of math,  engineering, technology and science, e.g. in 2007, a new partnership  was created between the National School Boards Association and the  American Association for the Advancement of Science     o

At the same time, to succeed locally and to compete globally we cannot have our students focus only on science, math and technology. “Many of our

schools and classrooms across this country, but even more so in major Canadian cities, are microcosms of our global society. In Toronto, for example, there are schools where over 80% of children are born elsewhere. These places are wonderful opportunities to develop tolerance for differences and a real appreciation for diversity. As cultural, linguistic, religious and racial conflict characterize so many corners of our planet. As our common future is threatened by prejudice and hate, we must continue to adhere to the first principles of confederation. We must learn about and appreciate the proud history and culture of our great country. Canada is rich in traditions. We must know them, celebrate them, all the while embracing the new folklore that immigrants and refugees bring to our country. This mixture of races, languages, and culture enriches the fabric of Canadian society. Our young people have the opportunity to broaden their horizons and the understanding of others and themselves…….” (from Michael’s speech – can be shortened)

  4. Together we need to make this a priority and create unorthodox and unusual  partnerships, for example:    …educational policy makers can learn much from observing how innovation occurs and how sectors are transformed in the most knowledge intensive parts of the economy. (from Micael Sabia)

  o In Europe, the concept of mini‐companies has become widespread,  and is growing in impact as a means for students in schools to learn  “hands on” about how a company operates. Typically, a group of  pupils work together to set up a company, and develop a product or  service and get it into the market. They gain the skills, knowledge and  attitude of an entrepreneur.    o Launching in 2008, the EU has a pilot project with an objective of  facilitating exchanges between young entrepreneurs in different  countries.    o A unique program, grounded on business and education  partnerships, offered across Canada, and having it’s “Invention  Convention” today, is the Learning Partnership’s I3 program –and  why I am so passionate about offering the I3 program, an example of  how to foster engagement and excitement in learning about the 

process of invention and applying science in personal projects that  are focused on human betterment    5. Government needs to support innovation, especially in times of economic  stress: although there are many others, I am sure, I offer you two excellent  examples of government leadership and partnership:     a. In Canada, MaRS Discovery District was created in 2000 by a group  of 13 visionary individuals, organizations and companies concerned  about Canada’s performance in the global innovation economy.     It is a non‐profit innovation centre connecting science,  technology and social entrepreneurs with business skills,  networks and capital to stimulate innovation and accelerate  the creation and growth of successful Canadian enterprises –  “ Wealth creation through innovation”.  As an example, in  partnership with CIBC, they are currently offering a course for  university students – Entrepreneurship 101    b. Alberta’s action plan for brining technology to market  ‐‐ Action 9:  support youth technopreneurship by uniting the efforts of industry,  educational institutions, service agencies, governments, and other  organizations.  .   

What’s the big finish? The summary call to arms?  Although the current economic situation is perilous for many Canadian businesses, it will also present opportunities for some sectors. To benefit from those opportunities the following are essential:

1) Encourage science ƒ Science develops logical, analytical, creative, inquisitive thinking ƒ Interdisciplinary context important – need to learn more than science ƒ Students must be encouraged to study science ƒ Governments must fund scientific endeavour

2) Engagement and partnership ƒ Students and workers must be able to operate within a framework of engagement and partnership

3) Innovation, for example in the following areas: ƒ Environment ƒ Health ƒ Technology