New Book by Harvard Educator Praises Olin as Model of Educational Innovation

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Creating Innovators, a new book by Tony Wagner, a Harvard authority on educational change and leadership, includes a chapter holding up Olin College of Engineering as a model for innovation in higher education.

Olin College of Engineering

An aerial view of Olin College

I think that Olin College has given us a thoughtful and largely successful model of a college that is designed to graduate young people who are capable of innovating in many different fields...

A new book by a Harvard authority on educational change and leadership includes a chapter holding up Olin College of Engineering as a model for innovation in higher education.

The book, Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World (Scribner, April 2012), is by Tony Wagner, co-director of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The just-released volume explores what parents, teachers and employers must do to develop the capacities of young people to become innovators.

The book profiles compelling young American innovators such as Kirk Phelps, product manager for Apple's first iPhone, and Jodie Wu, who founded a company that builds bicycle-powered maize shellers in Tanzania. Wagner reveals how the adults in their lives nurtured their creativity and sparked their imaginations, while teaching them to learn from failures and persevere.

Wagner identifies a pattern—a childhood of creative play leads to deep-seated interests, which in adolescence and adulthood blossom into a deeper purpose for career and life goals. Play, passion and purpose are the forces that drive young innovators, according to Wagner. He shows how educators can apply this knowledge and what parents can do to compensate for poor schooling.

Wagner takes readers into the most forward-thinking schools, colleges and workplaces in the country—places like Olin, which are developing cultures of innovation based on collaboration, interdisciplinary problem-solving and intrinsic motivation.

“I think that Olin College has given us a thoughtful and largely successful model of a college that is designed to graduate young people who are capable of innovating in many different fields,” writes Wagner, who spent time on Olin’s campus visiting classes and interviewing faculty, students and administrators.

“Just like the best charter schools in public education, Olin has been—and continues to be—a laboratory for educational R&D, and their diligent work shows us what it means, in practice, to completely rethink learning and teaching in a college,” notes Wagner.

More information on Creating Innovators may be found at http://www.tonywagner.com/

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