Steve Jobs, one of the most creative—and effective—innovators in modern America, has died. He was born to single mother. His father was an immigrant. His unmarried parents gave him up for adoption. He never graduated college. By conventional standards, any one of these factors would have made him destined for mediocrity at best, a drain to society at worst. And yet, he not only thrived, but altered the world forever through a combination of unrivalled creative expression and business acumen.
The world needs more innovators like Steve Jobs. Academics, educational institutions, system leaders, teachers, and instructors would all benefit by contemplating the elements that create a mind which is both innovative and productive. “Reverse engineering” for education systems might help such leaders better understand not just the process, but also the experiences the mind needs to adopt traits that foster innovation.
They could start by looking at events like this month’s ITU Telecom World 2011. Thousands of influential delegates from the telecommunications and technology industries come together to discuss what steps need to be taken to get more of the world connected. Then they integrate and welcome young minds to participate in the creation process. While the physical event is held in Geneva, students, teachers, and classrooms can get involved today.
As a lifelong champion and enabler of creativity, Steve Jobs exhorted his customers to think different. We can pay tribute to him by exposing students to the power of creativity everyday.