Thursday, August 29, 2013

Innovation or Improvement?

I'm the first person to think that some things need to change. In fact, status quo usually annoys me. For years I've been saying that schools haven't kept pace with change. Students have changed. Parents have changed. Community has changed. Have we kept pace with this in our schools? And what changes or innovations are necessary?

Earlier in the year I commented that it would be easy for schools to invest money in buying new furniture and making classrooms look different without actually tending to the matters that would really bring about any necessary change. It's certainly something that I have had to resist doing.  Perhaps having a new setup might effect change in some classrooms. If not every child had their own table to work at, somethings would change. New furniture does not equal change though. Sitting on a stool is really not that different to sitting on a chair. These elements are "surface features" to use the writing matrix analaogy.

So what of the "deeper features"? I was interested in Vivianne Robinson's comment at the NZPF conference that Innovation refers to something new or novel. "Novo" means new. She used Novopay as an example of where not all change and innovation is inherently good. She says we need to aim for Improvement.

What is it we need to improve on then to meet the needs of the 21st century learner? How is this connected to the learning spaces that exist in most New Zealand schools (single cell classrooms).
To work within these existing structures we need to improve student ability in collaborating, in learning about learning and students being active in their learning, as opposed to it happening TO them.

Innovations need to be carefully considered. Will it actually bring about the improvements that you need or want, or is it just change for the sake of change? Is it up to the Principal of a school to "inflict" change on teachers and their classes or should the changes come from within?

I'm thinking less about the furniture and more about teaching practice.

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