|My Grade 6 class in 1996|
As leaders in education, our job is not to control those whom we serve but to unleash their talent.As I read this it reminded me of the reasons why I moved to my school 6 years ago. Before moving to India I was not in a school that was much interested in innovation, and so the thing that really attracted me to ASB was its "can do" attitude. I'd never been in a school before that had an R&D department, and I was amazed by the culture of yes. To this end, George Couros writes:
The problem is that when you say "no" to innovation for any reason - people feel reluctant to attempt trying new things in the future. Their thinking is, "If I am not allowed to do something that could impact learning in my classroom or other classrooms, what purpose do I have in serving the needs of the school as a whole?" In other words they think, "My ideas don't matter."
|My 5th Grade students and their families |
at our first student-led conference in 1999
If we've established a culture in which educators feel their only option is to ask forgiveness for trying new things, this is not an educator issue, it's a leadership issue ... squashing the ambitions of those who want to go above and beyond to try something new will ensure schools have only "pockets of innovation" at best, and, at worse, no innovation.Looking back now, I'm aware that my colleague and I did some really wild things. For example we went and dug up the paving stones in the school playground and then gave students the task of trying to use simple machines to bring the stones up to the 2nd floor of the school through the windows in order to try to demonstrate the technology that the ancient Egyptians used in building the pyramids. Another time we dug up the school playground and each class buried a set of artefacts, which the other class then dug up, taking on the roles of archaeologists and trying to work out what culture we represented. I remember this was the first time we had students video and document the whole process and then we posted this on a class website - and this was at a time when our school didn't even have an internet connection back in 1996! And yet I'm aware that we were just one of those "pockets of innovation" that George referred to. Personally I think we did really great things in Grade 6 - and over 20 years later I'm still friends on Facebook with some of those 6th Grade students - as well as with my teaching colleague - but I'm also aware that Grade 6 was seen as being a bit "out there" and that although we had a class website we didn't really have a way of interacting with other educators around the world. I know that change can happen one person at a time - but it could have happened much quicker and had more impact if we had been more connected. I have to say though that I very much appreciated that school for tolerating the "crazy" ideas of two 6th Grade teachers!
(By the way I just checked to see if that old 6th Grade website is still there - it is! Amazing! The photo above is this 6th Grade class in 1996 - my first class who ever published their work on the internet. Were we innovators? Yes, I think we were!)