The Paradoxes of Education Innovation

Posted by on Oct 28, 2015
The Paradoxes of Education Innovation

Innovation is a beautifully romanticized notion. It brings to mind thoughts of amazing individuals like Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, and Marie Curie who so daringly defied and displaced the status quo. And therein lies the problem.

Because statistically speaking, the majority of us are the status quo. And the status quo rarely enjoys being displaced.

This is especially true in education where the system has spent centuries building in self-preservation mechanisms that make innovation feel all the more impossible and uncomfortable.

But when places like this do amazing things like this and help students have experiences like this, we get a glimpse of what it could be like.

For the many educators who work to bring about a new narrative for teaching and learning in education, there is a reality to this innovation that this piece from the Harvard Business Review details quite wonderfully.

While the piece speaks more directly to innovation in all institutions of life, the six innovation paradoxes apply incredibly directly to education.

  1. Affirming the individual…and the group
  2. Supporting…and confronting
  3. Fostering experimentation and learning…and performance
  4. Promoting improvisation…and structure
  5. Showing patience…and urgency
  6. Encouraging bottom-up initiative…and intervening top-down

If you are a leader in education, a teacher working hard to offer your students the best learning experiences possible, or someone working to positively influence education in your spheres of influence, I strongly encourage you to read the piece. And consider the six paradoxes above.

Because if we can resolve these as leaders, teachers, students, parents, and communities working together, I believe we’ll see a more powerful narrative of modern learning that will create even greater opportunity for everyone in education.

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