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I’ve been reading the Obama Administration Plan for Innovation, Science & Technology on the barackobama.com.issues.technology site. And the site name gives it all away—the discussion about innovation is on the tech site. There is, in fact, very little in the way of innovation in this plan, as you will see for yourself when you read it. It’s all about technology—math and science and engineering. Which is terrific, but not necessarily innovative.
Now on all the major issues, Obama gets it right—openness of the net (yes), connecting government with its citizens through social media, more funding for science, a permanent R&D tax credit, etc. You can check off the issues.
But, and this is a big but, there is little about user-centric methods to create new options for tough problems in education, transporation or health. The Plan says that “Obama will appoint the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer (CTO).” Well, he actually needs to appoint a Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) because change is as much about sociology as technology, as much about creativity as science.
And that translates into more money for art and design education in K-12 and college as well as more funding for science and math.
It’s important to have the “best-in-class technologies,” as the Plan says, but it’s even more important to have the best-in-class thinking.
It’s important to give students “high order thinking skills including inference, logic, data analysis, interpretation, forming questions and commnication,” as the Plan says. It’s also important to give students the skills of empathy, imagining, intuiting, collaborating, iterating, learning from failing, visualizing, disrupting, engaging, even playing. These are the skills of creativity and we need creativity to build a new sustainable social model of economic growth.
So Barack, get some new faces and new thinking into your administration. Enough with the Clinton people already. If the country wanted Clinton people, it would have voted for Hillary. It voted for you. Ideas from the 90’s aren’t appropriate for the 21st century. Be innovative.
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