Sherry Kappel, Senior Product Marketing Manager, IP & Asset Management, Thomson Reuters: Last week, the Washington Post talked about a Maryland school district seeking to improve schools with performance gaps by creating “Innovation Schools.” As an IP professional, of course the word “innovation” caught my eye. And of course it had nothing to do with IP. It was the usual math and science, test scores, disadvantaged populations, blah blah blah.
But, it got me thinking. It’s not the first time I’ve thought school would be more interesting if they’d just make the concepts relevant to the kids’ lives. When I taught composition, my first job each semester was to convince students that English would matter to them in almost any professional capacity. Once in awhile you hear of a good teacher applying new math to the real world. IP, though? Certainly not an acronym my kids have brought home – even though many companies now see it as their most valuable assets.
I’m not suggesting a crash course in lawyering, licensing or docketing, although they’d get exposure (when is the last time a kid said they wanted to be a paralegal when they grew up?). IP is all of those, but with good ole’ math and science plus some English and art thrown in. What if they had to dissect an Air Jordan to figure out what made it fit, what made it great, and how many patents went into the making? What if their assignment was what Apple should do to the next iPad, the latest flavor of gum or upping the ante on skype? They’d have to see if anybody had done it yet and draw the design, perhaps defend its uniqueness on a debate team. I bet they could teach us a few things about which competitors really belong on the Themescape map.
And then there’s the naming! Hip hop moguls with their clothing lines, bags and record labels know far more about what’s in a name than poor, sweet Juliet ever did – but is it in use? Can it go global? What does it mean in Spanish, French, German or Japanese? I suspect they’d find that more interesting than reading about Romeo.
Are the classics still of value? Absolutely. But short of the science fair, right now schools are an alien world to kids, with no ties to their outside interests. Maybe, just maybe, IP can bridge the gap – and prepare kids to bridge the innovation gap which worries politicians world-wide.