This morning I read a great post by George Couros: Flipping the Script; 3 Obstacles to Innovation Viewed Differently.
It ended with this statement:
If we start looking at the challenges as a great way to get people to think differently about the “why, what, and how” of education, we are in a good spot. If we ignore these statements and running away from the challenges, we are actively doing what we don’t want to happen in our schools.
We need to start looking at the challenges as opportunities to create something new and vital in education.
I have always heard the traditional reasons for not making radical change – ‘we don’t have the time, we don’t have the money, we are not sure this will work.’
George does a great job at debunking these obstacles. I would add one other great obstacle that is really stifling innovation – the impact our practices will have on test scores.
We are really afraid of making radical change because of these obstacles and I think test scores create the greatest barrier to change. It works a little like this – ‘If we just keep doing what we are doing but we tweak just a few things, we will finally get the results we have to get.’
One big question – even if we get these ‘results’ how do we really know that we are providing an education for our students that will help them to be the innovative and independent thinkers that our society really needs right now. I can’t help but think that we are really missing the big picture here.
Why not risk? Why not innovate?
For example, what if we tried some of these ideas?
- allow schools to develop local partnerships to fund initiatives in their schools
- put professional development in the hands of individual schools, principals and teachers
- do away with any meeting that does not allow for active participation and learning for those involved
- invite the community into our schools and allow them to offer their expertise to our staff and students
- finally get over the textbook and the ‘5 computers per class’ model. Provide every student with a good computer and make sure it goes home every night.
- ask people what they think and what they want – students, teachers, parents, school administrators – stop telling everyone what is ‘good’ for all of us
This is a provocative list and readers may immediately respond with the time, money, results, will it work paradigm.
We need the collective courage to start over and ask very challenging questions on what innovation should look like – the compliance model simply doesn’t work and begs to be thrown out.
Thanks to George Couros for asking these tough questions.