Project Management Education Creates Innovative Thinkers for Tomorrow’s Future

This article was originally published in the 28 January 2013 issue of PMI Community Post

By Christine Otis

Our future depends on today’s children to be global thinkers to solve the problems of the 21st century.

Many countries are now placing importance on teaching the value and skills of project management to today’s children for tomorrow’s world.

By providing students with hands-on and real-world experience through managing projects, students can learn the skills needed to be successful now and in the future. This active engagement of using project management and project-based learning for real-life situations fosters and supports their creativity and imagination, which lead to innovation.

Innovation Begins

Across the globe, teachers, schools and individuals are integrating project management instructions into classrooms.

In São Paulo, Brazil at Gloria Azedia Bonetti, Deborah Leah de Moraes is teaching project management to 13–17 year olds. She notes the direct impact on the students, “The course made them realize that they solve problems all the time and they are directly connected with the world and the future.”

Instructors at Tulsa Tech in Oklahoma, USA, have also noticed the difference when students are engaged in project management methodologies. “You see the creativity coming out in their style and design,” says Teresa Pinkston, 3-D design and animation instructor. “You don’t get to see that when they read a book and spit out the material.”

“In the final lessons learned, the students realized the importance of changing their attitude [regarding] their peers more,” states Emanuela Mazgon, who teaches project management practices at Scuola Primaria Pecorini Sant'Anna in Gorizia, Italy.

Working on project teams has also helped other children be more social, stated Ludovica Guetta, of Scuola Ebraica in Milan, Italy, “Even the shyest children felt involved and took part in the teamwork.”

Paul Hampton, PMP, an instructor at South Medford High School in Medford, Oregon, USA mirrors real-life situations in his Chemistry in the Community class, emphasizing, “I try to create an experience that might be more like for an environmental or engineering consultant firm.”

In Asia, PMI India is working with the Central Board of Secondary Education to integrate project management into their technical curricula with the goal of expanding these courses into a nationwide program.

Voices of Experience

Students learning project management skills in the classroom directly experience its worth.

Ashley, a junior at South Medford High School stresses the high value of hands-on experience. “Because you’re actually experiencing what the problem is instead of telling [or being told] what the problem is…I think it’s easier to work with the processes, with the group. We’re not just trying to figure something out by ourselves. We’re all doing it together.”

“I liked the tips on how to handle an interview, as well as ways in which each project is done,” says 13-year-old Letícia at Gloria Azédia Bonetti in São Paulo, Brazil.

“I definitely started planning. It helped me to be more organized…there is less stress,” says Kari, a freshman at Oral Roberts University, who took a project management course in her senior year of high school at Tulsa Tech in Oklahoma, USA. Kari went on to emphasize that, “It’s not just project managers who need those skills.”

"The most dynamic thing that worked was simulating a real situation. It was the coolest thing because it gave us a sense of how it will be when we're really working. We also had to exercise our communication skills and our way of working with a team," says Jessica, who attends Gloria Azédia Bonetti in São Paulo, Brazil.

Another student couldn’t contain his enthusiasm about doing projects in his school. “This afternoon it was very good for me because I worked very pleasantly with my group and we had good ideas that everybody got to express. It was fantastic!” exclaims 11-year-old Alberto, from the Bilingual European School in Milan, Italy.

Today’s Innovation is Tomorrow’s Future

Innovation is the key to the future, where thinking critically, problem solving, communicating, collaboration and the ability to take risks are hallmarks of modern advancement.

Today’s children need to be the next innovators and what better way to do that than through learning project management that emphasizes innovation.

Stressing team importance and project success, project management is moving to the forefront for enabling young adults to be workforce ready. By providing children with the necessary skills, they will be better equipped to adapt to change and become the change agents of tomorrow.