Is blogger’s block the same as writer’s block? The same as innovator’s block? When you have so much you want to blog/write/innovate about that you end up stifling yourself with so many words/ideas/goals? That’s where I found myself after this week’s #IMMOOC offerings, including an invigorating YouTube discussion followed a mere two days later by a riproaring Twitterchat. Good gravy. I was smothered. Soaking it in, but smothered.

In times like these, I gotta go back to the “why,” which, thankfully, was also a blog prompt. Why is all this innovation crucial to education?

And to answer that question, I go back to an old friend, Thoreau:

Why get busy with the work of innovation? To engage our students. (Cue your inner 4-year olds, here): Why? To build their curiosity. Why? So they will want to learn. Why? So we won’t fail them. Why? Because we are training them for jobs that don’t even exist yet. Why? So they will be contributing members of their community and their world. What’s ‘contributing’ mean? (Cue exasperated adult, here): JUST BECAUSE!!  Wait, what did you just ask?

In The Innovator’s Mindset, George Couros writes, “Education’s why is to develop learners and leaders who will create a better present and future.” I agree. Innovation is crucial to education when the result or the process is something better, not just something different. When it leads us to a better way, not just a different way. When we take the time to reflect on innovation journeys to discern if they are taking us in the “better” direction we want to go, from small scale, “dirt road” innovations to the major impact, superhighway kind.

Now, of course, “better” is a relative term. In the case of my school’s vision and mission, innovation would need to be in the service of “World Peace through harmony with self, others, and nature.” And as lofty as that goal is, it does provide a concrete lens with which to approach decisions and tease through myriad tweets and blogs and options.  Don’t be using a greenscreen just to use a greenscreen. Use it to produce a PSA on saving the pollinators. Use that projector to connect via Skype with field conservationists, not just fire up a GoNoodle. How many library read alouds can we tie to the ideas of kindness and respect and try? Can PBL projects focus on making the world a better place? Sustainability?  So, to “update” Thoreau:

8 thoughts on “Why innovate?”

  1. Innovate to be better. It reminds me of Pasi Sahlberg’s idea that Americans are so often seduced by the next new thing, when we really need to be asking whether it’s any good or not. The Finnish are innovating toward crowdsourcing the best of their best. Good idea, right?

  2. I agree on both the sentiments on bloggers block and the importance of why! Your examples of how to use innovation are great and simply share the endless possibilities.

  3. “Innovation is crucial to education when the result or the process is something better, not just something different.” So true, Laurie! I need to keep coming back to this quote as I consider my teaching and new technologies.

  4. Your post reminds us of the importance of being reflective in our decisions of how to innovate! Not just new, new AND better! Love this reminder to pause and reflect!

  5. Great questions and really like the introduction of “Why”! I like the quote: “what are we busy about?” Agree with your reference of using a green screen analogy. Just like saying, I use tech because it is popular! I think innovation come from being expose to what others are doing or when we have a good understanding of the goal we are trying to achieve with the students. Meaning, that if we know why, then we can think about innovating to make it stick for our students. Great post!

  6. I love the way you transformed Thoreau, through a series of questions that lead us right into your REMIXED MEME! So Innovative Laurie

    I absolutely agree that innovation towards towards a better world should be the goal of innovation!
    And with that goal in mind we can reflect on the impact of change as we try something new — hopefully towards a better world.. but not always.

    I sometimes thing its like a ‘financial portfolio” — you have to a mix that will move your investments forward and they say your portfolio should be diversified. How diversified depends on your risk tolerance!

    I think the same is true in our practice. We need to include research based best practice in our practice, but there will be NO research based best practices established if someone isn’t willing to be the ones looking at next practices. Their trial and error and reflection will determine whether a next practice becomes a best practice or disappears quietly into the graveyard of practices that didn’t work so well.

    Nice post!

    1. Thanks, Lucie,

      I like the example of mixed portfolio with reflection. Moving a portfolio forward means you have to keep looking for new things, too, including better ways of doing something.

  7. I love the way you brought Thoreau into your post. It helped me understand your reflections even more. To pause, and then reflect is something people have trouble doing in today’s world. This was very thoughtful and the memes were spot on.

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