High Cost of Squelching the Instinct to Innovate

For years many educators and physicians have recommended drugging risk takers. Kids who naturally initiate innovation were told they shouldn’t act that way. Now, there’s a national conversation asking where they went.

The Wall Street Journal reports the American risk-taking spirit appears to be fading, noting that Americans start fewer businesses. John Haltiwanger, a University of Maryland economist who has studied the decline in American entrepreneurship said, “The pessimistic view is we’ve lost our mojo.” What we’ve lost is a tolerance for a particular M.O. (modus operandi).

The pattern of conative instincts that leads to entrepreneurial efforts has been badly abused.

Ever increasing quantities of kids have been labeled ADD/ADHD and given meds to keep them from distracting others. This has not only robbed them of opportunities to learn to self-manage their instinctive strengths, it has kept these misidentified talents from blossoming naturally. Our culture is beginning to notice the absence of their innovative energy. We’re paying the price for the unintended consequences of dulling the minds of those who would now be leaders in changing the status quo.

So many parents are told: “Your child won’t conform to the system we have in the classroom. He’s being disruptive. We have to change the way he acts.” It is not about helping him or her use these abilities to create change in productive ways. It is an attempt to keep those behaviors from interfering with current classroom procedures. By labeling them “disabilities,” schools not only dull the uniqueness, they get extra funds for doing so.

Now these non-conformist kids’ abilities are MIA in the workplace. Now we recognize the loss of the creative disruptors. Now, just maybe, more educators (and corporate trainers) will be open to the reality that trying to make every student do things one way is not the best way to get the results both the kids and society needs.

I’ve never lost hope that leaders in education and medicine would realize this mistake. It’s logical that the evidence would come from the world of work, where all of the natural conative strengths are essential to bottom line performance. Data I’ve been collecting (with the help of enlightened educators) regarding conation and disabilities may now be recognized as relevant. So I will, with the help of these educators, offer it for public discourse over the coming months.

Kids whose innovative instincts have been pathologized have suffered from the lack of freedom to be themselves. In a society that says it values freedom, this loss of freedom for many of our children is unacceptable. It is embedded in our standardized testing programs and strongly influences university and corporate selection criteria. It is a national disgrace.

In order to have innovation in the workplace, we must free all kids to be who they were created to be.


Filed under Self-Help

2 responses to “High Cost of Squelching the Instinct to Innovate

  1. CW

    I like what this article has to say and I believe it. But please give some options for teachers as well. As a teacher with a student who is SEVERELY disruptive and my desires are to really want to help him—-what hands-on help can you give when his behavior impedes the other kids from learning. Really, I honestly need some help so I can help foster his growth but preserve the growth of the others as well.

  2. As school begins, I want you to know that I appreciate all that you are trying to do to help kids in your classroom. There is not a one-solution-fits- all response that I can give you. However, the first step with every student is to be aware of the conative dimension as a factor that determines actions, reactions and interactions. Look at your problem student as being perfectly capable of his or her own mode of creativity, and offer as many options as possible that would allow the freedom to use those capabilities. That could be as simple as allowing the student to walk around in the back of the room, or draw pictures while you are talking.

    I’m working on a non-verbal Kolbe assessment that will help us know what would work best to help young and handicapped kids learn. I’ll post information about it here as soon as I have completed Beta testing it.

    Project: Go Ahead, a non-profit program for jr high thru university classrooms is proving highly successful with groups of studetns in classrom settings, or community programs. It helps kids self-manage their own learning process, does not ask teachers to change how they teach, and improves communications among students and between students and teachers. We’ll we providing more info on it through Kolbe.com in the next few months. It is sponsored by The Center for Conative Abilities, which will have an upgraded web site by the first of the year..

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