Do you remember when you were a student in high school?  How many hours did you spend in classes?  Do you know?

Certainly, hundreds, thousands perhaps.  Probably you don’t even remember what classes you took.

Did those classes help you become a creative innovator?  Did you learn the kind of imaginitive wizardry to conjure up an iphone or create a world-popular web phenomenon?

Probably not.  Yet, for some reason, politicians seem to think that having more classes will magically lead to better innovation.

This rather mind numbing lapse of logic is happening all over the world.

Example from BBC News:

Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, the European Commissioner responsible for research, innovation and science says, that, “Emphasising that this [improving education] is about keeping up, rather than grandstanding, she talks about Europe facing an “innovation emergency”.  In China, you see children going into school at 6.30am and being there until 8 or 9pm, concentrating on science, technology and maths. And you have to ask yourself, would European children do that?”

My, oh my, do I have several problems with this:

Do all Chinese children spend 14 hours at school?

Do they all really concentrate on science and math?

Is China known as an innovative society?

Will spending hours studying science and math time really create innovation?

No, no, and very obviously, NO.

Do students even need math and science for innovation?  Americans’ math and science is dismal, yet that is where most innovations happen.

And, wait, it gets even better:

The challenge for Europe, she says, is to be able to commercialise ideas as successfully as the United States, in the manner of the iPhone or Facebook.

Great example.

Thanks.   Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg did not have a traditional education.

So, where does innovation come from?

I have some ideas about that, but that’s for later, but I know where it does not come from.  It does not come from traditional education, and most certainly, not from “more classes” or “going into school at 6.30am and being there until 8 or 9pm.”