Education innovator speaks in Carson City |

Education innovator speaks in Carson City

Teri Vance
Special to the Appeal
Author Milton Chen, author of Education Nation, speaks to students at Carson High School March 16, 2016. Photo by Tim Dunn/Nevada Photo Source
Tim Dunn | Nevada Photo Source

Listening to author and education innovator Milton Chen on Wednesday morning talk about the importance of planning for the future, Carson High School junior Caitlyn Lee, 17, reviewed her own plans.

While she has a passion for performing, she knows it can be hard to pay the bills singing and dancing, so she plans to pursue a degree in business finance or management from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“It’s really me trying to do what I love while getting an education so I can make a living and see where I go from there,” she said. “I like that he didn’t say there was just one way. He said it’s better to do what you enjoy doing because that will take you further.”

On a two-day speaking tour in Carson City, Chen — author of “Education Nation” and senior fellow and executive director, emeritus at The George Lucas Educational Foundation — visited local schools during the day and finished with a community forum Wednesday evening at the Brewery Arts Center.

“Curiosity is probably the most important trait you want to develop in students,” he told a packed audience in the Brewery Arts Center’s Performance Hall. “We want kids to persist in their curiosity. We want to encourage kids to learn about the world and ask questions.”

He will visit more schools today, along with a trip to the Innevation Center at the University of Nevada, Reno.

He encouraged students representing business, leadership, entrepreneurial and other clubs at Carson High School to replace the “u” in education with a “you.”

“Think about creating your own future,” he said. “Entrepreneurship is a real skill. You are in charge of your own ed-you-cation. It’s amazing what can be done.”

He shared his own story of growing up in Chicago as the son of Chinese emigrants, who were barred from returning to their homeland after the Communist takeover.

“I encourage you as you go forward to know who you are,” he said. “That’s how education starts, knowing who you are.”

He also shared stories from Steve Jobs and George Lucas and their unconventional paths to success.

He showed a video clip in which Lucas told of a car accident near his high school graduation that made him realize how fragile life is and how important it is to treat each day as a gift.

It was an idea that resonated with Zach Simms, 17.

“Over the past couple of months, I’ve had a lot of hardships in my family,” Simms said. “It makes me appreciate what I have right now and make the most of what I’m going to have in the future.”

Chen encouraged educators and other community leaders to work together as an ecosystem of education.

“We need to make school life more like real life,” he said. “Kids need to see that what they’re learning in school is connected to real life. Anything can be taught if it’s taught in a meaningful way.”