To create future innovators, we must give themopportunities without the pressure, say experts 

Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival 2023 panel point out that while today’s children
have more opportunities than ever before, but need empowerment as well 

For immediate release

Sharjah, May 12, 2023

We cannot foster the next generation of innovators unless we give them a safe space to fail, said a panel of children’s authors at the 14th Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF 2023). Discussing the development of future innovators, and the means to identifying and supporting them, the literary figures said that parents, teachers and other caregivers played a key role in spotting the talents of children, helping develop them and encouraging them to excel in those fields.

The panel, featuring Timothy Knapman, Buthaina Ahmad Sharif and Amina Al Ruwaimi, noted that every single child has the potential to be an innovator and fulfill their creative potential, and it is our duty to help them achieve it to the greatest extent possible. Sharif said, “When you empower children, you empower the future.”

Al Ruwaimi said that events such as SCRF were a prime way of helping create future innovators, by exposing them to artists and creatives of all talents in one venue. “This is how children discover opportunities and recognise that there is a world of possibilities available to them,” noted Al Ruwaimi. “Other than that, parents, educators and caregivers must also work actively to remove the fear of failure from youngsters’ minds – self belief and confidence are key components of innovation and shaping future innovators, besides innate curiosity and a penchant for discovering their talents and what it is that they do best. No one can succeed if they fear failure so much that it prevents them from putting their ideas into effect.”

Since the children of today live in an ever-changing changing world “where we now have young generations who have grown up with technology, they need to take all those influences they get through social media, AI etc and push back”, said Knapman. “Creating future innovators is also about giving them the courage. And then, to fail, and often fail spectacularly. You can’t create or develop your ideas unless you’re in a safe space to fail”.

One of the best ways to empower children in this regard is through books, the authors said. “To develop the empowered mindset, for instance, one of my books is about a fairytale princess who does not wait to be rescued, unlike the traditional heroine. To be a future innovator, it’s all about taking on the onus and also not fitting into society’s expectations or boxes, and to swim against the current if necessary,” said Knapman.

On a practical, day-to-day level, Sharif said that we must explore the right times and venues to encourage children’s creative talents and innovative tendencies. “Summer vacations could be one of them, a time filled with non-school-related activities that caters to their specific interests and made available to them in a non-structured or scheduled manner can really engage children and help unleash their innovative side,” Sharif said. “Give them the opportunities without the pressure. The imagination is the place where they can play, and help frame it into ideas and solutions for the future.”

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