Why Does Education Have to Think Outside the Box?

Education is the pathway to the future ― and innovation is integral to paving that road. That’s why schools have a critical role to play in nurturing innovation and in harnessing its power to take us where we never thought possible.

Dwight is proud to play that role for students and faculty, encouraging them to imagine a better world today. Thanks to the support of The Dwight School Foundation, we have launched the Spark of Innovation Program to provide resources, both financial and in the form of mentors, to help take ideas for new products, businesses, public policy, and social enterprises with real-world applications from the drawing board into the marketplace.

While leading universities have created such programs in support of start-ups by entrepreneurs at the college level, we want to bring the same opportunity to students at a much younger age when imaginations know no boundaries. The Spark of Innovation Program is designed for students beginning in kindergarten through grade 12, who think outside the box and envision a better world.

I see hundreds of glowing embers of possibilities in Dwight students, and every day I am reminded that if they can imagine it, we as educators owe students the chance to help make it happen. Thanks to The Dwight School Foundation and its supporters, we’re on a path to nurturing innovation beyond the classroom on a level previously unimaginable. I invite you to watch the Spark of Innovation video to learn more.

How Do Students Benefit from Being Part of a Global Network?

Stretching across three continents, five Dwight Schools educate 2,000 students in New York, London, Seoul, Shanghai, and on Vancouver Island. We share the same singular commitment to igniting the spark of genius in every child, so that no matter where in the world students attend Dwight, they are inspired to find their passions and excel in their own unique ways.  Being part of a global network enhances opportunities for students to do so, as demonstrated by three seniors who recently traveled to our new Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School. They were inspired to contribute personally to the burgeoning school community and together, they designed a means to introduce their peers in China to the International Baccalaureate’s CAS (Creativity, Action, and Service) program. This trip, as you can read here, was mutually enriching for all.

Journeys like this are but one of innumerable benefits students reap as part of a global network. They also participate in grade-wide exchange programs, curricular collaborations, leadership conferences, online learning, athletic competitions, and cross-campus concerts and traveling art exhibits. With ever-advancing technologies, there is no limit to how students can connect, share ideas, and develop innovative solutions to global challenges. In Dwight’s network of IB World Schools, students have the added benefit of learning a universal curriculum, providing countless opportunities for them to work and learn together on common units of inquiry across date and time zones.

The IB was founded to develop students to be internationally minded, sensitive to other cultures and perspectives, proficient in several languages, and critical thinkers who can help make our world a better place. It provides the ideal framework for creating today’s global citizens, who will become tomorrow’s agile, highly desirable job candidates poised for success in our increasingly competitive global marketplace.

The advantages of being part of a global network extend well beyond commencement. Dwight alumni around the world provide professional support to fellow graduates, mentor students, and connect socially in ways that bind those who share a common educational experience together for a lifetime.

How Can a School Today Ensure Tomorrow’s Innovations?

Dwight’s motto, “igniting the spark of genius in every child,” is imbued with a promise that the interests and passions of students — as well as those of faculty — can and should be nurtured. This philosophy requires a commitment to supporting creativity and pursuits that may take students and faculty, alone or together, down a new road of inquiry, discovery, and innovation.

How can a school like Dwight pave that road when their path is not yet charted?

The answer may lie in embracing the mindset of such leading universities as Stanford and Harvard, where programs designed to support innovators, business developers, and social entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to market and build a better world have taken hold. My hope is that Dwight will join them by developing its own culture of innovation program.

As an International Baccalaureate (IB) School in which faculty and students embody the IB learner profile, which includes being a risk-taker, Dwight already fosters a culture in which innovation is the norm. Students as young as three years old begin to learn what that means through the IB Primary Years Program. As they grow and develop their own interests and talents, students start to take larger risks in areas where they excel or strive to go.

We hope that where they go is wherever their minds, hearts, and imaginations can take them. And we know that they may need our support in doing so.

Can a school develop a platform for catapulting student and faculty designers, artists, engineers, scientists, and enterprising individuals who wish to explore their ideas, develop prototypes, and map their vision for a better product, service, or world? How would you develop an innovators and entrepreneurs program at Dwight, so that great ideas and inventions can go beyond the classroom and into real-life application?