Encouraging the Next Generation of Innovators

President Obama speech

President Obama spoke to the nation's schoolchildren today to encourage them to stay in school, study hard, and take responsibility for their education (video here, text here.)

The speech itself was a highly debated act of outreach/"indoctrination" that elicited strong feelings from many, especially those concerned with K-12 education. But regardless of how you feel about the speech, if you're concerned with U.S. innovation and competitiveness, you have to applaud the words Obama spoke about a third of the way in:

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

It's a marvelous call to action: a challenge to our young people to build aptitude in science and technology,and to view these disciplines as tools of innovation and a path to a better future -- for themselves and for us all.