Empowering Youth to Innovate: Our Future Depends on It

It’s impossible to comprehend how fast the world is changing. Advancements in technology and the proliferation of information available are enabling an incredible pace of innovation, transforming the way we live and interact with one another. New careers are being created, while other careers are being automated or omitted.

But this isn’t happening magically on its own. Elon Musk was once a 13-year-old boy obsessed with outer space, mechanics and sustainability—a set of specialties that would never be grouped in a traditional education system.

He has devoted his life so far to pushing the boundaries of these elements individually and as a set. He will likely do things in his time on this earth that seem truly impossible to most.

The question we sought out to answer when building The Knowledge Society is simple: how can we expose kids to more, sooner? We believe that developing that passion for innovative topics early is the solution to ensuring transformative technology is just that: transformative. And it will propel us into a better world.

Don’t underestimate today’s youth

Young people need the freedom to learn about the latest trends, network with like-minded individuals, and understand how to adapt to rapid change. Often, we underestimate young people’s ability to understand complex concepts, but exposing kids to challenging subject matter at earlier age can foster lifelong curiosity and passion.

For example, two of our members, Ben Nashman and Sunrose Billing, have recently created a new Medical imaging technology that use ions instead of protons to image nerve tissue. Their technology has achieved a 20X deeper level of granularity than traditional MRIs and has the ability to image sub tissue. This dynamic young duo is already making strides to bring this product to the world, receiving a patent and access to $300,000 worth of software from a medical services technology provider to keep working on it.

Broad exposure leads to focus

Enabling youth to explore, focus and innovate empowers them to find their passions so they can make informed decisions about their studies and ultimately, their future. How can you know what success means to you without an understanding of what you want to achieve?

By creating a space where youth can solve important problems, think ahead, be confident, be resourceful and take risks, we help them identify their strengths and interests early on, so that by the time they’re applying to universities, they have a better idea of the path that’s best for them and what they want out of life. It allows them to connect the dots on University—thinking about what school they need to go to be connected with certain professors and recruiting companies, for example, to really get the most out of their experience in relation to their passion.

Embrace agility with programming

Rapid advancements in technology are making it increasingly difficult for schools to equip students with the skills that will be in the greatest demand by the time they enter the workforce. In fact, half of all subject knowledge gained during the first year of a four-year technical degree is already outdated by graduation day.

The school system is highly fragmented and it can take time to adapt curricula based on evolving needs. For example, coding is only now becoming integrated into high school programming; how long before emerging technical fields like artificial intelligence, quantum computing and blockchain are adopted?

Coding arguably should have been implemented ten years ago. Supplementing traditional education systems with innovation programs like TKS and extracurricular learning opportunities like Launch Academy and BrainStation can help fill gaps in curriculums and ensure that tomorrow’s leaders foster the hard skills they need for success in today’s rapidly evolving workforce.

A premium on resourcefulness

Scholastic performance has historically been based on how well students can absorb and memorize information. However, this ability is less relevant in today’s digital world where we have access to unprecedented amounts of data. The digital universe—the information we create and copy—is doubling in size every two years, and by 2020 will reach 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes.

In this new world, it’s vital that we train resourceful future leaders who can successfully navigate this ever-expanding universe, discovering, analyzing, and harnessing the wealth of information at their fingertips to find creative solutions to the world’s greatest problems. In short, enable youth to figure it out.

As the pace of technological change continues to accelerate, it’s more important than ever to adopt a holistic approach to education that builds upon traditional institutions (that remain and will always be incredibly important) with new opportunities for continuous learning, both inside and outside of the classroom.

The earlier we can identify and raise up tomorrow’s great leaders, the sooner we can help them find their path to success, and change the world for the better.

Navid and Nadeem Nathoo are cofounders of The Knowledge Society.