EdCan Network, EdTech & Design, Opinion, Promising Practices, Teaching

Why do we need innovation in education?

Launch of a CEA blog focus aims to start building some form of consensus of our collective expectations for why innovation is needed in education.

So why do we need innovation in education? This is not such a straightforward question when many school districts still consider installing interactive whiteboards in front of the classrooms as the way forward. These technology “solutions” have to do with the belief that simply putting “tech equipment” into classrooms is going to improve teaching and learning. We haven’t worked very hard to get to the heart of the pedagogical approaches required to make these pieces of equipment hum!

Seymour Papert illustrated this thinking with a stagecoach that had two rocket boosters strapped on the sides with the caption: “Technology being applied to an old model of learning and teaching simply doesn’t work.” There are a lot of well-intentioned educators who still think that if we keep refurbishing the stagecoach, we’ll prepare students for what they need to learn to thrive in this world. Perhaps we need to abandon this “not having to reinvent the wheel” mindset. In fact, I think that we need to get rid of the wheel altogether!

Now keep in mind as well that the accountability indicators for school districts in Canada are heavily focused on student achievement results and do not reflect any mention of innovation. Sadly, our education system tends to value compliance, conformity, and complacency over innovation.

No one innovative approach is the magic bullet. Our Ken Spencer Award Winners – featured in our recently released special Theme Issue of Education Canada – show how teachers, principals, superintendents, and community leaders work together to push the boundaries and redefine the structures of teaching and learning. And more often than not, when these types of initiatives are pitched to decision-makers to scale up, they respond: “that’s really interesting”, and promptly get back to work doing the same thing. I’ve been asking for quite some time: how do we move people from merely being impressed, to being convinced that they have to radically change their practice? Now.

CEA wants you to contribute your stories in the form of a guest blog post to help us define why we need innovation. We want to lead a discussion to start building some form of consensus of our collective expectations for what innovation is needed in education. How do we come to an agreement?

Questions for students, parents, administrators, policymakers, researchers, and anyone else concerned about innovation in education:

  • Do you think that we have the appetite to innovate?
  • Why is innovation in education so important?
  • How do we best spread innovative ideas?

Questions for teachers:

  • What has been your best teaching moment?
  • What was in place to make that happen?
  • When did you feel that you had it right?
  • When was your classroom humming? Tell us about these optimal learning and teaching moments.

We need you to “ground” our thinking in actual practice – examples of educators taking their visions and insights into what school could be and being given the space to work with them.

  • What personal and institutional assumptions and traditions did you challenge to move your innovation forward?
  • What didn’t work?

For teachers like Kelowna Flipped Classroom proponent Graham Johnson, the insights came gradually. For others like Oasis Skateboard Factory founder Craig Morrison, he seemed to know from the beginning what would work, and how he wanted to do it. How is it unfolding for you?

Inspire us with your insights and ideas.

Meet the Expert(s)

Ron Canuel

Ron Canuel

Ron Canuel is the former President and CEO of the Canadian Education Association. He has over 40 years of experience in the public education sector. As the former Director General of the Eastern Towns...

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