The personal learning network for educators
In my last post I reflected on a simple yet profound idea: innovation hates silos. Why? Innovation wants to break out of the mold and disrupt, to do something new, and make what was once old relevant again. There is a great deal to be learned from the past and the present for education's benefit.
We can look all we want at current education practices in the U.S. and determine something has to change. This we know. It has been documented by countless bloggers, federal and state policy changes, the advent and adoption of Common Core, and teachers and administrators who are trying to make big changes in small contexts. Look at the current trends on #edchat #edtech #edu and other prominent hashtags on Twitter and you'll find all kinds of educators sharing resources from their own silos wanting to influence others to change. I do the very same thing. While sharing of resources is important to influence how we teach, it does not really innovate the overall context of education.
If education is to innovate then we must look to business, science, health, and other professional areas. In this we have to carefully observe trends that are influencing the work and working of other industries. For example, there is a massive trend towards lean start-ups as books, articles, and companies helping others to forgo the route of a massive start-up to one that works without major resources. What can we learn from lean start-ups? What can we learn from business trends? What ideas can we transform to affect education in positive ways that benefit many more than our immediate context?
Tom Whitby writes in a recent blog post So it is written, "If we always plan conferences on what worked last year, progress will never catch up to relevance." Notice two things about this comment. The first is conferences and the second is progress. Conferences are great. I get good ideas when I go but I always feel I miss something in translation. The translation fails when my point of view does not match the general trends in education. By now we know technology should have changed teaching and learning but it hasn't. By now we should have more leaders rather than observers but we don't. By now we should have a better idea of the immediate future but we can't see it. The other part of his comment is progress.
Progress in education falters because of policy, non-education leaders at the local, state, and federal levels, and funding. Progress also fails because educators are not keeping pace with new trends in education and other professional areas. Relevance and progress should be on the same page, the page called innovation. To innovate practices, teaching, and learning we have to look to other industries for our inspiration and decide how to progress towards a better immediate future. The question is, how do we do this?