#InnovativeMindset: Overkill and the New Global Educational Reality

in·no·va·tion – a new method, idea, product, etc.

I am opting out on writing on the topic of the week.  I tried, honestly, to come up with some thoughts on it, but something kept nagging at me all week.

I’m sick of the word “innovation”.

Sort of like, back in the day when I first got married, and people kept asking me, “when you gonna have a baby?” and I ignored it till I got pregnant, then I saw babies and pregnant women EVERYWHERE… the word innovation has become this flashing light in my face.  I don’t like it.

Not that I don’t like innovation.  It was my chosen “word of the year” back in January.  What I believe I don’t like is everyone else liking the term innovation.  I see it, I read about it, I make note of it in places I really didn’t expect to see it.  I wonder if some of the people using it even know the definition of the term.

Liking innovation and USING innovation are two different apples in the same barrel.  Evoking the term doesn’t mean an immediate change in the status quo. So what, you’ve decided to be innovative.  Show me what you’ve done that’s so damned innovative in the classroom.  I swear, its like we’re all still doing the same stuff to me, unless I’m missing something.  Yes, there are great ways to use Google Suite (love the new name, btw), and interacting with global classrooms is the ultimate in learning for all of our children, but how come I don’t really FEEL the innovation.

My unit on environmental science is ending.  My students have learned about natural resources, population growth, they’ve looked at how education affects resources and spent this week trying to wrap their minds around what the hell to do with with all the trash.  We’ll take on air and water pollution next week then move on to more mundane topics… like Chemistry.  I tried to introduce them to the world in this unit.  I felt it was important that they see things from a global perspective.  Many told me, they have a better appreciation of how lucky they are to live in a society where, if they choose to ignore it, the “garbage” just all goes away and they don’t have to think about it.

Has innovation made it possible to “make it all go away?”  Has the way we educate our children on a global level actually made it possible for us to pick and choose the reality we allow them to see?  Back in the day, I was only exposed to one reality, mainly because it was the only one immediately available for me to see.  Now, though, as my students complete their weekly reflections on what they’ve learned and answer the 5th question, “is there anything else you’d like to learn about this topic?”, most say “nope, nothing else.”

Meanwhile, somewhere in Africa, a kid is sitting on a hillside at sundown, after allowing his second hand device to charge up using solar power, trying to pick up a wireless signal so he can learn more about how to clean water, so he can be a blessing to his village, which doesn’t have… clean water.

Did I, through my innovative processes, give them too much to consider, or do they truly not give a damn?  Does the kids sitting on a hillside somewhere in Africa recognize the innovation he’s trying to apply will be life changing for him and his village?

The reality of innovation in education is this: we have no idea what we’re doing, do we?  So, we read books, and tweet at each other, and have book studies and reflect and comment and say all the right things.  Then take it all back to the students and they become just as overwhelmed with it all as we are.  We continue to find new ways to create.  How human of us.

The truth is, I think, education never changes.  What we all choose to learn does.  That is the new method, the new idea, the new product created.  US.  The learners making CHOICES about the overwhelming amount of knowledge that exists, that those attempting to facilitate learning are just now fully realizing has always existed.  WHAT ON EARTH DO THEY NEED TO KNOW?  WHAT DO THEY WANT TO KNOW?  HOW DO WE GIVE THEM ACCESS TO IT ALL?

There is where the innovation is.  In providing access and allowing them to just… learn.  So, on the global level, the way we teach isn’t that big a deal, the what is.  It’s the what, that scares the hell out of everyone, right?

Ok, I’m finished thinking out loud.  It’s been a horrifically long week and I need to reflect upon a few life choices.  Thanks for reading.


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