little girl gallery

“All children are born geniuses; 9,999 out of every 10,000 are swiftly, inadvertently degeniusized by grownups.” – R. Buckminster Fuller

How do we keep the genius alive in our children? By helping them develop skills and expertise in activities they enjoy — even when those interests are different from our own.

With encouragement, creative children and teens – who doodle on their homework papers and imagine their own worlds instead of following in their classmates’ footsteps – might become leading designers and innovators in the future.

Design is a viable career field. Examples of design are everywhere: buildings, devices, websites, vehicles, and billboards. Even tools and machines that make all these items are products that originated in someone’s imagination.

Sketching close up
Student sketchbook

Designers use knowledge, experience, and imagination to create and enhance products and environments. The more they are willing to experiment and to learn from their failures, the more beautiful and functional their work becomes.

I feel sad when I hear people, who are viewing a work of art or an eye-catching design, say, “I couldn’t do that. I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” Too soon in our lives, too many of us give up on the idea that we have the ability to imagine and create something special.

Consider the infinite possibilities if we all experienced genius as our birthright. What an amazing world we could design if we all believed in our creative potential.

In an interview with Forbes contributor Victor W. Hwang, Todd Johnston, an innovation consultant who teaches people to collaborate and solve complex challenges, said, “This is a great time to be a designer, as I believe we are living in a time when a fundamentally new paradigm, or way of understanding and interacting with the world, is being formed and coming into being.”

Design class
Industrial design students

An encyclopedia defines design as “to plan and make decisions about something that is being built or created; to create the plans, drawings, etc. that show how something will be made.”

Johnston’s definition is: “A design marks out a vision for what can be; the act of designing is to move with intent to close the gap between existing conditions and that vision.”

I prefer Johnston’s idea. I believe all who doodle, stare into space, and follow the allure of imagination are not escaping “the real world” as much as they are giving birth to new ideas.

“The ability to creatively combine and apply various bodies of knowledge in new and more powerful ways is becoming of greater and greater significance,” Johnston said. “In other words, it’s not just about knowledge, but about what you do with it.”

With education and encouragement, students can turn daydreams into career goals. It may be tempting for us – as well-meaning adults – to suggest a back-up career plan for budding artists; but it is wrong for us to believe success comes only to a lucky few. In various industries, all around the world, successful designers work among publishers and promoters, architects and builders, engineers and manufacturers.

Male at computer
Graphic design student

Together, dreamers and doers, designers and makers, create many consumer products. They also inspire innovation and technological advancement through collaboration.

“When done well, collaboration unleashes collective intelligence and channels that intelligence into the design process to produce dramatically better results … The complex problems we face today call for all kinds of intelligences, voices and vantage points,” Johnston declared.

I am in awe of innovation and of the opportunity that teachers, parents, and mentors have to encourage the next generation to follow creative career paths could inspire a global movement!

Please take time to view the Dream & Do episode of the Working Class public television series. You will be inspired by young designers and learn more about the past, present, and future of this expanding career field.

Student in gallery
The Gallery at Penn College

The series itself is a collaboration – between Pennsylvania College of Technology and WVIA Public Media – that features the creative work of K-12 and postsecondary students and educators.

To learn more, please follow Working Class on Facebook and Twitter.




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