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The Misconception of Creative Thinking and Innovation

Source | Youtube : By Jacob Fohtung

There is a common misconception that having a creative or innovative mindset is intrinsic. World-renowned innovators like Albert Einstein, Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs seem to confirm this misconception with their works and actions.

Since August of 2015, I began planning and organizing innovation marathon events called Hackathons at some of the most prestigious colleges in the country such as Harvard and Yale. In these events, I have come to realize that when people are presented with and inspired to solve a problem, they become very creative and innovative.  An example that comes to mind is a conversation that I had with a junior and pre-medical student at Brown University who participated in the MIT Hacking Medicine event in the spring of 2015. She told me that prior to the event, she never thought of herself as a creative thinker or an innovator. However, after being inspired and challenged to find a solution to some of the critical issues patients face in a hospital setting, she came up with some great ideas and with her team, she built an app that digitalizes patients’ information in hospital. Her innovative prototype won one of the category prizes of the hackathon. She was so inspired by the experience that she later decided to organize one at her school.  

Similarly, I was filled with awe of the creative and innovative projects that some of Cameronian high school students came up with while addressing social ills via a platform that I co-founded called IlluminateBox. At IlluminateBox, we spur creativity and innovation among high school students by asking intriguing questions about persistent problems in Cameroon and asking them to suggest possible sustainable solutions. One of the students suggested that up-skill conferences that will provide a platform to connect the recent college graduates and companies in order to mitigate youth unemployment. This thoughtful solution prompted me to believe thinking creatively is a learned skill.  

 Thus with these experiences, I strongly urge that we as a society should reject this notion of the intrinsicality of creative thinking and innovation but rather embrace the possibility of them being taught and encouraged in our schools.

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