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Want to solve problems? You need both the field and your home baseTaizo Son is based in Singapore but flies around the world. He says he arranged his environment in this way because it stimulates his creativity. Photo by Aiko Suzuki

I want to increase the number of innovators who can tackle the problems of society. Even if you look at the whole world, you will find only a handful of people who are working seriously to fix things. I think that increasing that number even a little will accelerate the pace of innovation in society.

To get more innovators, we have to start by changing traditional education. We have to get away from this completely one-sided method of “teaching” where someone instructs someone else about some topic.

I have mentioned before that VIVITA has no teachers and no textbooks. It just gives children a system that allows them to create what they want. The adults are only there to provide support. This leads to some truly unexpected results.

What always surprises me is how incredible children are at asking questions. They will just rattle off high-level questions that completely stump adults. It makes sense, of course. The children have something they want to make, and we’ve given them a context in which to barrel forward and make it work, unhindered. That means that even when they hit a wall, they can formulate specific questions for adults until they have the solution by the tail.

I believe that if we want to make innovation happen, designing environments where creativity can bloom is far more important than “education.”

So, what does it mean to design an environment?

To come to the point, it means creating an environment that provides human and material resources, and that lets you travel between “the field” and your “home base.” That is the sort of environment that produces innovators.