What does innovation mean for education, and should every educator be an innovator?
Taking the second half first. Knowing that the semantics will get in the way: yes, every educator should be an innovator. We’ve all had that teacher or college professor that comes in with the ancient binder full of yellowed notes; they can’t deviate from the script. It. Is. Oh. So. Boring.
Every educator should constantly be looking at their work and the students they teach. Is this still the right format? Is it the right time to introduce this? This lesson was awesome 5 years ago, but it seems trite now. In the now classic “Shopping Cart Video” Kelley explains that innovation isn’t always completely new, but it might be just adding something different that makes a product better. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taJOV-YCieI) Education should be the same.
Using Couros’ definition that “Innovation [is] a way of thinking that creates something new and better,” (The Innovator’s Mindset, p18), then I think it should be a mandate that education is innovative. As he also notes (p20) it need not be a long stretch to bring innovation to the classroom. Didn’t we do it when we added projectors in addition to overheads (or dare I say film strips)? whiteboards over chalkboards?
In many ways we need to recognize that educators are inherently innovative, and it’s not something wicked to be feared.