Day 75 (of 184) Too Much Innovation?
I had too much turkey on thanksgiving. But I was still ready for leftovers the next day.
What does this have to do with innovation? The challenging thought came via @laurelbeaton who put out “Schools face ‘not the resistance of innovation but the … uncritical and uncoordinated acceptance of too many different innovations.’ – Fullan”
At times, it can be overwhelming even for me (and I LOVE change and innovation and challenging the education status quo) to see all the ‘new things’ that we ‘should do’ so that ‘students can learn better’. And there is a lot of innovations being proposed in education. Lots of ‘best ideas’ being proposed by people with a particular area of expertise…
I always like doing the ‘best practice math’ based on common requests for time:
90 minutes of language arts a day
60 minutes of numeracy is an asset
60 minutes of physical activity helps students learn
30 minutes of independent reading
90 minutes (per week) of prep – in our case Fine Arts Music
That doesn’t count for:
Science (hands-on activities on a regular interval is best)
Social Studies (needs to be meaningful and relevant)
Second Language (for grades 5 and beyond in our province)
Fine Arts – Visual, Dance, & Drama
Careers & Health
Self Regulation (a focus in our schools)
and then some of the outliers:
#geniushour (one hour per week that we would like to expand)
Hmmmm. and we have about 290 minutes per day….
And yet, @laurabeaton challenged me that despite ‘innovation’ in education, our “classrooms are hardly different from 200 years ago (Tyack & Cuban)”. And that’s a tough pill to swallow.
And as I reflect, I note my own experience in the classrooms of the 1980s (scarily a quarter of a century ago) are similar to what I see my kids going through (and even worse, using some of the same textbooks to guide instruction).
My own family experience (my father was an education innovator) has shown that there are many educators wanting to embrace change and ‘do different’ while others harken for the ‘good old days’ (which usually aren’t) of learning.
And the fear is that some will change education ‘just because’ – or as Fullan more eloquently put it: the uncritical and uncoordinated acceptance of too many different innovations” – and indeed there are a wide range of ‘best practices’ (often in book form) for reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic. And this is what we can get burdened down with: doing change because…….it’s different, and not critiquing the ‘why’ and seeing what others have experienced.
And once upon a time (a decade ago) it was very difficult to get a ‘global pulse’ of what innovations in education were working, and which were distracting (tools vs toys). But now through expanded/extended Professional Learning Networks there can be (and is) global discussions about innovations and shifting from ‘overloading’ to ‘purposefully mindful’ introductions of education innovations:
SOLE (Self Organized Learning Communities)
Mobile Technology (netbooks, tablets, and smartphones oh my!)
all have pages of information, and online chat groups focused on how they are making a difference in learning – how we are…
…the learning experience.
And since the world looks dramatically different the classrooms should too – which is why I oppose the ‘installation’ of projectors which force learning to face one direction. It’s why I fight against desktop computer labs (cubical trainers). It’s why our Library and Learning Assistance areas have been repurposed as a Learning Commons (flexible schedule for ‘as needed’ supports).
And since things are going to ‘look different’ it’s a good time to ‘do different’ – such as geniushour where students own their learning (such a shock) and the focus is on “what are you learning, what are you becoming a ‘genius’ about?”. Evolving away from the worksheet mindset to a culture of differentiated learning to make every child feel their learning is relevant, meaningful, and valuable. Every day.
And then taking advantage of technology – especially social media – to check the pulse of other ‘innovations’ around the world and learning what is working from those ‘doing it’ – not just hearing about a ‘neat idea’ and jumping on a bandwagon.
Instead picking and choosing which means being critical of different innovations.
It means coordinating the introduction and use (and reflection) of innovations on a larger scale than ‘just in a school’ and taking advantage of an extended Professional Learning Network.
And not fully embracing each and every ‘innovative idea’ at once – but feeling free to ‘jump in fully clothed’ when the idea and your pedagogy feel like a match!
And finally, much like the earlier mentioned turkey dinner, accepting that it is okay to feel ‘full’ once in a while knowing that that ‘overwhelming’ feeling will ease off, and the ‘hunger’ to go after the same meal again will return and that’s okay.
As long as we aren’t feeling that the apex of educational design was 200 years ago and that our innovations reflect that in education the best is yet to come!