My definition of innovation is this: innovation is doing things in ways you didn’t realise you could. In education, as in other fields, innovation is so much more than the application of new technologies. But it must be acknowledged that new technologies have often acted as the catalyst for innovation, not just in education but also in all areas of society.
The realisation that you can do things differently – in ways you didn’t realise you could – does not come suddenly to most of us. Innovation is the progressive development of awareness and the gradual appreciation of an alternative model.
The management of the hotel where the above sign was placed in the 1880s was attempting to help its customers come to terms with a new paradigm: electricity was challenging patterns of behaviour established over centuries and, just like the internet is doing today, it served as the catalyst for a wave of innovation.
I know very few teachers who don’t rely on technology of one kind or another to help plan and deliver their lessons. I know fewer students still who do not rely on the internet to help then learn. Yet both teachers and students often try to use technology to support well-established patterns of behaviour in an inadvertent attempt to perpetuate that with which they are familiar.
Instead I would like to propose that schools embrace innovation, not as a target or a policy, but as a culture, that is to say that schools need become places in which innovation – as defined above – is allowed to grow and flourish. But for that to happen, we need to stop attempting to light bulbs by striking matches.
What do you think?
Many thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for unearthing the picture used in this post.