An Inherent Contradicion

Innovation requires ritual breaking, routine changing. How are the two compatible?

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Innovation is routine's worst enemy. Innovation comes when the comfort, and therefore stagnation, of ritual is shaken off and shown to be unfit for purpose. I feel that the best way that any kind of 'innovation' promoting culture can be instilled is by recognising that, at times, the thought processes behind sudden, spontaneous teacher-taken decisions (changing lessons plans, responding to a particularly inquisitive child and his or her query) are completely and utterly positive. Institutional dogma, down to the slightest detail, inhibits in teachers a fear of creating too much noise, of acting, of taking a class outside the classroom if the day is nice. I feel genuine progress, and therefore the instilling of a innovation mindset, comes when teachers feel trusted enough to rip up the mark scheme and become human beings.    


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Photo of Emma Scripps

Adam - you point to an interesting tension! Routine <--> Innovation. I wonder how you might design routines to create more spontaneity?

P.S. Add a photo to your post! When I can't think of what photo to add - I just drop in an image from google search that I think seems relevant.

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Hi Emma. It's definitely a tension that exists, I see it first hand in two schools here in Uruguay. A dependence on the traditions and values of the old that, in part because of their resilience in the face of innovation, are deemed to have 'stood the test of time' and are therefore most worth keeping. It's tricky, as I think that all innovation fundamentally comes about because of a reactionary push against routine. Think of great inventions, thinkers, ideas. They have all needed single, crazy moments of spontaneity that fuel them.

Talking in a more pragmatic way (because I hate staff meetings where there is a lot of talk and no action), I think showing students that teachers are plastic human beings who can adapt to change creates a culture of better interaction. I once asked my students to give ME a homework task. The subtle shifting of traditional relationship bought up some really cool ideas. It showed them (I hope) that I actually do love my subject, and would gladly research something in my own time if they have the time to question me about it.

That's one way I'm trying. But still trying to get my head around the innovation/ritual/contradiction thing...

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P.s for those with little time to read a long post:

Idea - let your students give you a homework task. Revert roles once in a while.

Photo of Emma Scripps

That's interesting. I love the idea of helping students see teachers as more human. And I think there might be a way to build in habits/language in a school that promotes teachers to be more human with their students.

To your point about reaction against something and how that relates to innovation - I agree. And what it makes me think about is ... what about the concept of permission? How can you embed certain habits into a place (even if its a habit around language) that gives ppl the permission to even have that reaction in the first place. I'd love to see you build on this provocation when we get to the ideas phase in a couple of weeks.