Great ideas can come from anywhere, and often, the most impactful ideas are the product of deep collaboration between individuals with diverse backgrounds. Informed by nearly 50 years of honoring the accomplishments of some of the world’s greatest inventors, the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) has long known this to be true, and increasingly, studies conducted by economists, demographers and research firms are all arriving at a similar finding: socially diverse groups are more innovative and productive than homogeneous ones.
The importance of promoting the ideas and voices of people from all backgrounds extends far beyond positive economic considerations, and as a society, it is essential we continue working to further diversify STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, which have historically produced some of the most impactful and influential innovations.
Below are a few tips teachers and parents alike can use to promote the importance of inclusion, collaboration and embracing the perspectives of others.
Establish a Safe and Inviting Environment
A crucial first step in helping children collaborate with others is to cultivate a space where they feel safe to express themselves. In an academic setting, educators can consider creating classroom guidelines that promote sharing and collaboration. These could include things like not interrupting others when they are speaking, and when engaged in group work, partnering with someone new. In an at-home environment, parents can encourage their children to not be afraid to ask questions, so they can maintain healthy conversations.
Promote the Importance of Treating Everyone With Fairness and Respect
For younger children especially, things that are new or different than what they might be accustomed to can sometimes be intimidating and viewed in a negative light. Because children as young as 6 months can begin to notice differences in skin color and hair texture, the earlier adults can teach children to respect the differences in others, the more integrated this behavior will become. As children are naturally curious, do not be afraid to answer their questions openly and honestly. When engaged in group activities and discussions, whenever possible ensure that all participants have the chance to participate.
Explore the Power of Ethics
Just like how it is wrong to take something that does not belong to you, it is similarly inappropriate to steal ideas, or use them without permission. In the world of innovation, patents, copyrights and trademarks are all tools used to protect against theft or unauthorized use of someone’s intellectual property. Share with kids the importance of being honest and not copying the ideas of others. Ask them to talk about how it feels when someone takes something of theirs without permission. Additionally, when facilitating collaboration or group work, ensure that everyone has the chance to speak and have their voice heard and respected.
Share Your Ideas to Promote the Importance of Diversity in Innovation
Do you have any favorite ways to share the importance of diversity with the children in your life? We would love to hear from you on our Facebook page!
To read more about how innovation and diversity go hand in hand, we invite you to visit our blog.