Going Places: How to inspire the next generation of innovators and inventors
The twin brothers were keynote speakers at the Fall 2016 opening of Inly School’s new innovation hub, then hung around campus for a tour of the da Vinci Studio and its maker spaces, a book signing of their bestselling children’s books Going Places, and a chat about creativity, innovation and what makes kids tick.
What’s the key to creative thinking? Can it be cultivated?
Paul: I’d say, ‘Be curious.’ That’s where it starts, right there. Often if you tell people to be creative they freeze up. They say they’re not creative. But if you encourage them to be curious about the world around them, then they open up and creativity follows from there.
Peter: Make schools inviting, hands-on learning environments and then go home and make your home an extension of that learning.
When we were young our dad turned our garage into a maker space and workshop where we could build things out of wood. And our mom brought home an old Savin office copier from work. They were throwing it away so she brought it home and put it in the dining room and put a table cloth over it and a vase of flowers. When we wanted to use it we just took off the table cloth.
How cool is that?
Peter: I would make copies of things and it was so old that the copies were really light so I’d have to draw over the outlines with black marker and then I’d walk down to the five and dime in town and make new copies of the redrawn ones with the store copier.
So you were learning about printing and publishing from an early age…
Peter: Exactly. Without realizing it. I was just doing it.
And completely self-directed. Although your mom was clever to provide a tool. What can parents do to foster creativity at home?
Paul: It’s important for kids to see you drawing and singing. If you say you can’t draw, that sends a powerful message. Be brave. Show them that trying new things is fun. Make your home an extension of the school learning environment and let kids know you are also part of that learning team. Ask yourself, Do we have opportunities for creation in our house?
In the early days of video games we said to our three boys, ‘I know you really love playing video games — but it’s just as much fun to make them yourselves.’ So they did, using MIT’s Scratch programming language for kids. It’s no accident then that our middle son Ben graduated this year from MIT with a degree in computer science and game design, and is now set to graduate this June with a master’s while working at the MIT Media Lab. He experienced the joy and agency of making — and we expect it will pay dividends for years to come.
The Reynolds brothers tour the new da Vinci Studio, an innovation lab comprising the Digital Lab and Design Studio, Robotics Space and Maker Space; and the Think Tank, an environment specifically designed for students to imagine and invent.
Top: Paul and Peter Reynolds make some noise in the Digital Lab and Design Studio.
Middle: Illustrator Peter H. Reynolds makes his mark on the wall-to-wall whiteboard in Inly’s new Think Tank.
Bottom: Imagination in action! Children dive into the creative process, experimenting in their own maker space in the da Vinci Studio.
Further news and inspiration
For more in this series on creativity, innovation, and the new learning labs and spaces at Inly, see:
Books on imagination and innovation
Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds
“A celebration of creative spirit and thinking outside the box.” Watch the book trailer below.