Small innovation vs Large innovation, or how schools might think about R&D
Name Development has a superb summary of how even the smallest companies in the liquid products business have quickly seized upon the airline restrictions on carrying such products. It got me thinking about how change is often weighed up in education before being accepted: is this just a fad? is this something that is worth investing time (and money) in working on?
My attitude has always been that if it improves learning, no matter how short or long term the process of implementation may be, then we should do it. Blogging, podcasting, the use of wikis: all of these have often been perceived in schools as short-term, flash-in-the-pan ventures. In my own experience I've always been supported with a nod from management, but no time or school resource has been given for their development; this all came from awards or grants from Learning and Teaching Scotland.
What I call “large innovation”, such as the deployment of interactive whiteboards in large numbers of classrooms, have generally encouraged slow change and low innovation, with practitioners first of all reinforcing ‘old teaching’ before discovering new, more collaborative ways of working. “Large innovation” has also encouraged school management teams to spend money on a large scale, especially on hardware and to a lesser extent on training. Does the phrase “throwing money into a solution” ring any bells?
At the time I accepted this, since innovating on a small scale with relatively unaccepted tools seemed like an extra to the ‘day job’ of teaching the kids (read: killing them slowly with textbooks). I’m sure others feel that way today as they innovate in their schools. But in retrospect, and seeing how businesses such as these liquid companies cope with small, innovative change, I wonder if I would accept the “do it in your own time” quite as easily as I did back then. Small, innovative change has helped many of us improve the learner experience by leaps and bounds while large change has done so to a much lesser extent.
Am I being unfair on school management? How much does your school actually spend on its R&D? Are huge efforts made to get teachers away to major innovation conferences, such as SETT? If a teacher comes to you wanting to develop a passion how do you support him or her? Do you support them at all?
Pic from Flickr.