Get off my lawn: Why capitalism’s monopoly on innovation is bad for us all and what educators can do about it
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Innovation has many definitions such as generating wealth through ideas in business settings like a new product being brought to market. It can also mean applying creativity in psychology such as a new theoretical perspective for a human issue. Innovation involves applying practical or theoretical knowledge to novel contexts to facilitate discoveries, solve problems, improve designs, and generally enhance individual lives and society as a whole. However, in our societal zeitgeist, innovation has largely been subsumed by capitalism and society often only considers the most profitable of ideas as innovative. Capitalism inherently values objects, services, and processes that create monetary value as well as the people who design the goods or perform the services. These persons are often considered prodigies and role models. There are consequences to conceptualizing innovation this way, namely that we leave behind excellent ideas that are not profitable. I call upon systems of education to challenge the primacy of business in innovation by building the capacity and will for incremental innovation among students. Education could instead leverage the ideas of a larger segment of society and expand society’s definition of innovation to include smaller, non-profit generating ideas that also benefit humanity.