Opposable and innovative thinking to revolutionize education

In a constantly changing global market, innovation is needed now more than ever for individuals to adapt and succeed.

Keynote speaker Larry Smith, professor of economics at the University of Waterloo, discussed the anxieties felt by students as a result of the modern economy.

The current economic recession has stunted the job market and for the world to recover and adapt to this drastic change a new conception of economics must be met to redevelop growth, he argued.

“It’s a re-adjustment for all of us,” said Smith.

Newly graduated students many having an increasingly difficult time finding employment. Similarly, many students entering higher education can’t decide what field to enter to guarantee employment down the road.

“If you’re young and everything is changing, you want to go far, go do something big, do something stable,” said Smith.

“[You think] if I get my education and do what I’m told and focus and be a good student then someone will say ‘I will look after you forever.’”

However, with the continuing rise in contract work and tenure, permanent or lifelong positions rarely exist.

“[You] cannot escape a world of continuous evaluation where your contract is renewed or you get 48 [hours],” explained Smith.

Workers must now constantly learn and adapt to the changes in their field, redefining the concept of life-long learning. “You learn or you’re toast,” said Smith.

“How can you get more accomplished with fewer resources? The need for innovation.”

In a global market where competition exists without borders, the stress to be the most distinctive in any field is mounting.

“The need for innovation to be more and more competitive must be increasing,” said Smith.

Innovative thinking requires a great deal of flexibility and creativity. Being able to both experiment and realize that there will often be more failures than successes are imperative to develop progressively.

It is our desire for change and our curiosity that has created this global economy; these things will also provide us with the means to adapt to it.

“Boredom is what drives creativity,” explained Smith.

Smith argues that these acts, most importantly, should be constant and driven by passion. “If we love our jobs, we can’t stop thinking,” said Smith.

The challenges created by the global economy can’t be ignored or avoided, he argues.

Solutions can only be developed if the issues are addressed.

“This is the world we live in; we’re not going to get out by magic,” said Smith.

According to Smith, the greatest obstacle we face in pursuing innovation, flexibility and creativity is a lack of courage to accomplish all of this.

“Courage, we all need it,” he concluded.