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Why I'm Not Trying to Raise the Next Steve Jobs

Raising the next generation of innovators isn't about molding kids in anybody's image.


My father, still mourning the fact that none of his children went into medicine or investment banking, has been passing along selected stories from The Wall Street Journal, with an expectant preface: "I think you’ll find this interesting."

I’ve been informed that "Chinese Parents Are Superior," "French Parents Are Superior," and most recently, given a primer on "Educating the Next Steve Jobs." Internal red flags started waving: I love my iPhone and iPad, but do my daughters really need to aspire to be the next Jobs?

But it turns out the book that how-to guide was based on, Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, isn't about molding kids in Jobs' image—or anyone's. The book, by Harvard fellow Tony Wagner, advocates for a childhood of free play—much like that of the star of Caine's Arcade, which features a 9-year-old's creations made of curiosity, joy, and cardboard. Caine's experience follows a simple formula Wagner explains: Innovation flourishes when play grows into passion and is channeled into purpose—with support from a parent who encourages, but stays out of the way.

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Spring Is Packed with Sacred Holidays: Here's What They Teach Us

Many sacred holidays from several traditions converge within the same few weeks of the year. What can we learn from each?

I’m often amazed by the convergence of so many important, sacred holidays within the same few weeks of the year. If a being from a different planet came to earth this week and got a bird’s eye view, I wonder what lessons they would take away from this coming together on the calendar? I doubt they’d take sides—as in “this tradition good, that one is bunk!” All of them ask people to change their routine in honor of something bigger. Here are some lessons they might take away:

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How to Save Multiculturalism

"Multiculturalism" isn't a bad word. Embracing the differences diverse people bring to the table can create endless educational opportunities.


U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron just reignited the debate on "multiculturalism," joining ranks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Sarkozy by declaring their multicultural policies a "failure." As a U.S. passport carrying, multilingual, daughter of immigrants, and as a mother of aspiring global citizens, such a defeat felt like a kick in the gut. In my travels speaking to diverse audiences on gaining a global perspective and the tools contained in my book, Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be At Home in the World, I’ve seen quite the opposite: individuals of varied backgrounds coming together to raise beautiful families, make friends across cultural and ideological lines, and take tangible steps toward building a better world for their children.

Upon closer review, David Cameron’s justification for the failure of multiculturalism seemed reasonable: "Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream." Speaking specifically of radical Muslim youth, Cameron argued this resulted in marginalization, rootlessness, and "behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values."

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