We all know that reading is important. The book Cradles of Eminence (Little, Brown and Company 1962), studied the childhood of over 700 famous men and women. One of the conclusions of this book is that almost without exception the parents of these children had a love for learning. This was not just learning at school , but self learning and understanding. Our own research shows that this is also true with individuals that are innovators.

At the laboratory and in his home Edison created learning environments. He had large libraries in both places. He also believed that learning came from observation. He said, “In regard to things I have never seen before, I would rather examine something myself for even a brief moment rather than listen to somebody tell me about it for two hours.”

His quest for learning extended to his children, even when examining a work project. Edison’s son Theodore remembered, “…when Father was looking for something, why he would want us to look through all the references to some particular chemical. So we’d get these books and we’d work maybe until two o’clock in the morning, putting little slips of paper in the books and stacking them up on the table and then he would read through all these references to whatever he was looking up. The whole family sometimes was involved in that.”

Edison created a learning environment in his home and workplace. If we want to innovate like Edison we need to create these environments as well.

This Blog was originally posted November 15, 2010.