Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Lessons in creativity (and ownership)

And again from the Times, The Inquiring Minds Behind 200 Years of Inventions.

Speculating on the state of innovation over the next century, several inventors said the future lay in giving children the tools to think creatively:

"Inventing is an art," Dr. West said, "Our tools are not brushes, canvases and paints. Our tools are mathematics and physics, and we have to teach children how to use them. And that points to the role of strong mentors to encourage and guide them. For the United States to succeed at invention in the competitive world, it must encourage the ingenuity of minority groups and women." Dr. West, who is African-American, noted that the conclave of 37 inventors was overwhelmingly white and male, with only two women present."

Patsy O. Sherman spoke of the need to "prepare" curious minds. "The prepared mind notices when something doesn't go as expected, and curiosity is piqued by observation," she said. "You can encourage and teach young people to observe, to ask questions when unexpected things happen," Mrs. Sherman said. "You can teach yourself not to ignore the unanticipated."

and the motivation to invent:

"We are always just at the beginning of invention and innovation," Mr. Russell said. Aside from supporting research, the government's greatest role in assuring continuing innovation is promoting a strong, modern patent office. "Unless we can protect intellectual property, we will not have invention."

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