Everyone has her/his favorite list of "21st Century Skills" that
outlines what students need to learn in schools so they can be
successful in their future. Things are advancing so rapidly, however,
that many of those lists are already outdated. One that is still
current and thought-provoking comes from the innovator, Dr. Phillip Alvelda,
a former space scientist, holder of more than 20 patents, and
self-described "unrepentant inventor and serial entrepreneur." With one
foot in the future, Dr. Alvelda is committed to helping our schools
teach students to become innovators. For our students to not only
succeed in the future, but help create it, today's schools must teach
1. Be able to move from not knowing to hypothesizing to leading teams to solve, ethically, important problems.
2. Have the courage to be creative.
3. Be able to rapidly master new technologies and applying them in innovative ways.
4. Dare mighty things.
5. Be able to accept failure, and pick up and learn from it.
6. Be open to every idea, no matter how crazy it may seem, at first.
7. Experiment with ideas, and not wait try them out.
8. Learn in an environment that offers open access because even trivial barriers kill creativity and innovation.
9. Approach challenges with an attitude of playfulness.
10. Be impatient with the status quo and passionate about adding value to the world.
Can schools impart these qualities in their students? Yes! Based on
my own observations after having visited nearly fifty of the schools in NWAIS
I believe that Dr. Alvelda has, from an innovator's standpoint,
accurately described the work they are already doing, in their own
unique ways, with students. For independent schools in the Northwest,
the future is now.