The Ultimate Disconnect Between School and Innovation

Psychology and physics. Those are two higher level IB classes I currently take. This certainly is an unusual combination. Someone once told me: “Wow…what do you want to be? An emotional astrologer?!” Besides making me laugh a little, this comment made me think a lot about how people are often told that they need to separate disciplines and that one needs to choose one path or the other. This is a frustrating position for me since I enjoy both the sciences and the humanities. When looking into what I wanted to study, my options have changed from communications all the way to theoretical physics. Can’t one pursue very different ideas? Why are we limited to this? The answer is simple: conformity.

In traditional high schools, little has changed since the 19th century and the industrial revolution. At the time, businesses wanted people who would work at the instruction of others. To this day, we’ve kept this outdated style of education. Ironic, right? That’s exactly what businesses don’t want nowadays.

We are currently seeing that businesses are increasingly demanding for more innovation; they want people who will bring new ideas to the table which will solve problems. But, how does one achieve that? The same way that the clock was combined with a bell to create the alarm clock. The same way that the wine press was combined with the coin punch to create books. The same way that Steve Jobs combined engineering and design to create the Iphone. Creating atypical combinations with a purpose leads to innovation. Think about all the value that would be created if only we began to teach kids how to combine disciplines that haven’t been combined before. With this in mind, logically, we would educate students in a way that will prepare them for the real world. We would teach them how to innovate. We would introduce them to transdisciplinary classes, right?

There is a disconnect between what people want from the workforce and how students are prepared for the real world. We want people to be creative and make connections yet we put people in classrooms where they need to remember content and then regurgitate it back. We separate disciplines constantly because it would be logistically more uncomfortable to do otherwise. We’re told things are black and white when in fact, they’re not. If you were to really begin with purpose, not logistics, it would become apparent that mixing disciplines is, in fact, the best way to create more creative, purposeful and valuable solutions.