Learning, Innovation & Tech

Bombs & Breakthroughs

Tom Friedman: "Getting American Kids Excited About Innovation & Entrepreneurship Again"

CJW, January 24, 2010 9:42 AM



"More (Steve) Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs"
"We need to get millions of American kids, not just the geniuses,
excited about innovation and entrepreneurship again.
We need to make 2010  . . . the year of 'Start-Up America' "
                                              - Tom Friedman

Columnist Tom Friedman has an important call to arms in today's NY Times asking President Obama to modify the game plan from the creation of only "temporary" jobs to a plan that includes more sustainable and dynamic growth opportunities.   Integral to this latter plan is a culture embracing change, entrepreneurship, innovation and invention.  Friedman suggests two actionable programs with key points and link below.

Parents, teachers, school and our communities: we are all part of the deal.  Make sure your school is participating in these programs.  Purchase the movie - show your kids and class.
Here are some of Friedman's key points:

"Obama should launch his own moon shot. What the country needs most now is not more government stimulus, but more stimulation. We need to get millions of American kids, not just the geniuses, excited about innovation and entrepreneurship again. We need to make 2010 what Obama should have made 2009: the year of innovation, the year of making our pie bigger, the year of 'Start-Up America.'

Obama should make the centerpiece of his presidency mobilizing a million new start-up companies that won't just give us temporary highway jobs, but lasting good jobs that keep America on the cutting edge. The best way to counter the Tea Party movement, which is all about stopping things, is with an Innovation Movement, which is all about starting things. . .

. . . Inspiring, reviving and empowering Start-up America is his moon shot.

And to reignite his youth movement, he should make sure every American kid knows about two programs that he has already endorsed: The first is National Lab Day. Introduced last November by a coalition of educators and science and engineering associations, Lab Day aims to inspire a wave of future innovators, by pairing veteran scientists and engineers with students in grades K-12 to inspire thousands of hands-on science projects around the country.

Any teacher in America, explains the entrepreneur Jack Hidary, the chairman of N.L.D., can go to the Web site NationalLabDay.org and enter the science project he or she is interested in teaching, or get an idea for one. N.L.D. will match teachers with volunteer scientists and engineers in their areas for mentoring. . .

. . . The president should also vow to bring the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, or NFTE, to every low-income neighborhood in America. NFTE works with middle- and high-school teachers to help them teach entrepreneurship. The centerpiece of its program is a national contest for start-ups with 24,000 kids participating. Each student has to invent a product or service, write up a business plan and then do it. NFTE (www.NFTE.com) works only in low-income areas, so many of these new entrepreneurs are minority kids.

In November, a documentary movie -- "Ten9Eight" -- was released that tracked a dozen students all the way through to the finals of the NFTE competition. Obama should arrange for this movie to be shown in every classroom in America. It is the most inspirational, heartwarming film you will ever see. You can obtain details about it at www.ten9eight.com.

. . . You want more good jobs, spawn more Steve Jobs. Obama should have focused on that from Day 1. He must focus on that for Year 2."

Link here to full The New York Times article, "More (Steve) Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs."

Whether it is denial or our national trait of eternal optimism (although this quality is at an all-time low), it very well be that many Americans still falsely believe that many of the lost jobs will be coming back.  They are not.   New businesses (large and small), inventions, discoveries, and services must be created now, not in five or ten years, and will be driver for new jobs and the overall health of our economy.

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