Our Blog

Innovation requires the understanding that learning takes place every day; everywhere.

For real change – dramatic change – systemic change – change has to happen at the policy level – with the elected – at all levels.
30 November 2012
0
40 votes
+
Vote up!

Depending on whom you ask, innovation will mean drastically different things. When discussing “education innovation” you will elicit, at minimum, a public debate if not one rooted in longstanding organizational or political “positions”. There lies the rub. We, collectively, need to get past our territorial positions and examine the purpose of public education and how we ensure that students will aspire to reach high standards. Starting with the belief that all students feel safe and are safe; that they have similar opportunities to dream; to learn and to achieve regardless of where the live or their personal circumstance” – demonstrates that the publically funded education system must look at how education is delivered. By accepting that belief, you accept that we cannot deliver education in the “same old way”. Reflect on the education system when you were a student – how many students dropped out; how many students requiring intensive supports were in your classroom? It was acceptable for the education system to forget about the students who didn’t fit the model of instruction. 

File 4628

CC photo by: evmaiden

When you walk into a classroom, does it look or feel much different than when you attended? Now look around your home, what has changed? How have you embraced innovation in your home and lifestyle? What has changed since you were a kid? I’m forty-something and the changes within my lifetime are staggering. Yet, over the same period, what systematic changes have we seen in the classroom?

When you walk into a classroom, does it look or feel much different than when you attended? Now look around your home, what has changed? How have you embraced innovation in your home and lifestyle? What has changed since you were a kid? I’m forty-something and the changes within my lifetime are staggering. Yet, over the same period, what systematic changes have we seen in the classroom?

There are individuals who are very innovative in their teaching practices – but why hasn’t there been systematic change? When I ask my colleagues and other educational leaders, I hear the litany of constraints. Disagreements surrounding assessment practices; organizational positions; public expectations; dependency on provincial governments for funding; media “shock and awe”; fear of change and the “when I went to school” mentality ties the system in knots and throws the brakes on real change .

Innovation is more than technology. Innovation includes the teaching of the 3 R’s and embraces the 7 C’s (Creativity, Innovation & Entrepreneurship; Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, Character, Culture & Ethical Citizenship, and Computer & Digital Technologies). It requires the understanding that learning takes place every day; everywhere. It is the acceptance that we all grow and learn in our own way in our own time. It is the acceptance that what served us well in 1950, 1980 or 2000 may not serve us well today. Innovation is the ability to wrap kids in a safe learning environment that inspires and challenges them; a learning environment that prepares them for a future we can’t imagine. Innovation is happening in individual classrooms and in small geographic pockets throughout our country. For real change – dramatic change – systemic change – change has to happen at the policy level – with the elected – at all levels. 

I have witnessed Boards of Education demonstrating courageous leadership and making foundational changes within their system only to be pulled through the courts of public opinion and forced back to the traditional education model.

I have witnessed Boards of Education demonstrating courageous leadership and making foundational changes within their system only to be pulled through the courts of public opinion and forced back to the traditional education model. Education needs the help of community and business leaders to press government to allow education to evolve to meet today and tomorrow’s needs. Governments must return the reigns of education back to boards of education rather than continue the slow and methodical strangulation that increasing centralization is imposing. Boards require the ability to build a climate that encourages and supports innovation; a system that responds to the needs of individual students and communities. Incremental tweaking of the current system will not work. 

Boards of Education cannot wait for Government; we must do what we were elected to do – to Lead. So how do we kick start this level of change? By Embracing It! Through Advocacy! Through Leadership! By defining outcomes not outputs. Student engagement and success depends on it.

n.b. The opinions expressed in this blog post are those of Sandi Urban-Hall and not of the CSBA.