Well, I’m not sure that is true. I think lots more things will be invented. I would argue that much of what we now call invention is more innovation that invention. As we head into the future, I strongly believe that invention will slow down and innovation will increase. As a kid, we grew up hearing stories of great inventors like Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. Our kids will grow up hearing of great innovators like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.
I have this long-standing belief that our school systems (not referring to teachers here but rather the system as a whole) are built to teach our kids how to be good factory workers. Our educational system is teaching our kids to be good line workers—inventors—and how to work with things that we know to be true. Our school system—and most of us, being a product of that system—still believe that there is only one right way to do anything.
What should we as parents be teaching our kids? What should the school system be teaching our kids? Innovation. In school and even at home we train our kids to think concrete thoughts, which is good, but kids also need to think outside the box. We give them to many situations where there is only one right answer. The more we teach our kids to look at every problem in light of the possible solutions, we will be training them to be innovators.
I asked my oldest boy to move a pile of leaves and told him he could take them to the leaf pile one handful at a time or he could use the tools available to him. After much debate about the usefulness of each tool, we settled on a trash bag we could fill and take only one trip to the leaf pile. I helped him see the importance of, as Andy Stanley says, “going further faster.”
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that inventions are important and will still take place. I just believe that going forward those who will shape culture will be innovators, not inventors. I want my kids to be innovators. Innovators are leaders, innovators make change, innovators help to fix the brokenness of our world one innovation at a time.