3 Common Myths About Innovation in Education

1. We’re innovative. The kids all have iPads. It's About Pedagogy, Not Technology

To do what? To do what you already did quicker, more efficiently or on a larger scale?

In many schools the power of the iFad or whatever technology has been wheeled into the school is compromised by the way in which they’re allowed or – more importantly – not allowed to be used.

Even if we adopt the higher order thinking of the SAMR Model, how innovative are we really being?

Innovating in schools is often equated to just increasing the amount of technology in the classroom – and this I think is to miss the point.

What if innovation in education sought to (genuinely) empower rather than control students?

Instead of behaviour management, what if we spoke of unleashing students.

What would innovation look like then?

Of course technology would play a part but so would where, when, who, what and how would you teach.

I’m of the opinion that many alternative education programs that work with kids for whom the mainstream education system hasn’t are some of the most innovative. I touch on this in my latest segment for the TER Podcast.

2. I’m too old to innovate – the young teachers have got it covered anyway

A knock-on effect of believing that the key to innovation is the increased integration of technology in class is that some staff feel they have little to offer.

Imagine if told you that you were too old to offer anything of value? You’d be offended right? And rightly so.

Yet there are many who tell themselves this very thing every chance they get. Every PD day, every staff meeting, professionals actively opt out these kinds of discussions as they see it as the realm of the younger teacher.

But here’s the thing, while new – or soon to be new – teachers may well be able to post a selfie on Instagram or fire off a quick self-destructing (in every sense of the term) video clip on SnapChat, many are not the ‘experts’ that some schools expect them to be around the use of technology and the Internet – and even less so with regards to embedding technology into an effective pedagogy.

So the very premise on which some choose to opt out of the innovation discussion is flawed.

Regardless of your teaching experience, you can be innovative. And yes perhaps having a crack at new technologies, combined with your knowledge and experience of different pedagogies, may just produce a light bulb moment for you, your faculty and your school but do it steadily… and if someone tells you to just jump in the deep end with technology- have them take a look at this post I wrote last year.

But be sure, innovation pays no mind to your age.

Regardless of where you are in your career you have a choice to contribute, push the boundaries or ask “Why?” or “What if…?” 

3. We need to innovate for the sake of our children’s future

Ok, this one isn’t necessarily a myth, but stay with me…

One of the most popular ideas I hear at conferences is that, “We are educating kids for jobs that don’t even exist yet,” or an offshoot from that is blog posts like the  Top 10 Job Titles that didn’t exist 5 years ago genre of commentary.

It gets the juices flowing but you have to be careful, because well-intentioned types will take that to mean the most popular jobs today didn’t exist 5 years ago, rather than it merely being a list of jobs today that didn’t exist 5 years ago. 

A subtle but important different – and even then, most of these jobs you can see have morphed from an existing job. They’ve hardly sprung up from nowhere.

As a little test, ask your students, or kids in your life what career they’d like – how many come up with a job that didn’t exist 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years ago? (SPOILER ALERT: I’m guessing not many)

So rather than using ‘the future’ as a reason to innovate – because things get a bit ethereal here and some can switch off – let’s start using the PRESENT.

Last year, Gallup surveyed 7000 students in Years 5-12 in 36 schools across six states and found that, roughly 30% of kids have disengaged from school by the time they are 11.

How about using that as an argument to innovate?

To compound things, over 50% of Year 12′s – and yes these are the ones that have STAYED on at school – are disengaged.

How about innovating to address this?

How do you know if your school is successful?

Podcast IconMy latest #OffCampus segment for the TERPodcast focused on how schools measure their success, and whether or not we need a rethink. You can listen to it here.

I touched on some broad themes, that each on their own could speak to your schools strategic plan for the next 5 years… you have one right?

How and when do you measure your schools success?

Do ‘value added’ data add anything of value?

Do our ‘best’ students from our ‘best’ schools need something more than a great ATAR?

Can – or indeed should – we do anything different?

You can listen to my 5min segment here.

Or the whole TERPodcast, featuring an interview with David Price OBE by listening here.

 

#MakeItMatter2Me

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I regularly annoy math teachers by questioning why I would need to learn Pythagoras’ Theorem as a kid.

Or Calculus? Seriously… does that even exist?

And just to prove I’m not being mathsist, why should we care about Shakespeare?

Whilst you might this I’m being facetious when I’m doing this, I’m trying to highlight that whilst I – as a somewhat educated 37 year-old – can see the value in each of the above, I wonder if it’s as apparent to the average teenager (the one who isn’t satisfied with the exam or future rationale)?

Whilst some kids will tolerate not having a greater imperative for learning other than, it will be on the test, or they, might need it when they’re older, for a great deal of students this is the first step towards disengagement.

If it doesn’t really matter to them, why learn it?

Seriously… what do you say when kids ask you, “Why are we doing this?”

How do you make it matter?

I’m hoping we can build a resource of powerful answers to such questions.

Let’s share some ideas on #MakeItMatter2Me on Twitter or feel free to offer suggestions to “Why are we learning this?” in the comment box below.

A good start point sometimes can be to ask, “Why are we teaching this?”

It’s a powerful question than can foster real innovation in what and how we teach.

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