Why isn’t innovation increasing at a faster rate? In my USA Today column today, I explore whether our culture is a contributing factor:
Thanks to the number of factors involved, there is no easy explanation for why some eras produce more innovation than others. So, it’s not surprising (or a bad idea) that a solution frequently touted is a renewed focus on subjects such as math, science and engineering in schools.
But that alone won’t rejuvenate innovation.
Instead, consider the influence of our culture, including the self-esteem movement. The movement, which became popular in the 1980s, urged parents and teachers to bolster children’s confidence by being quick to praise and slow (if ever) to criticize, even when a kid opts to pursue PlayStation expertise over pre-algebra. …
Essentially, when children are praised readily and frequently, regardless of their efforts’ outcomes, there is no incentive for them to strive for genuine excellence — or even recognize that it can exist.