Our era of hyper connectedness and ensuing over communication has resulted in that, through their indiscriminate and almost abusive utilization, certain terms or phrases have lost their meaning on their way to the well populated graveyard of educational clichés.
Educational innovation is, unfortunately, one of them. Not so long ago, innovation was the battle cry of educational reformers striving to change the status quo and pave the way to build the school of the future, but so many failed attempts and pompous plans that proved to be just cosmetic changes, feeble endeavors with more marketing that substance, have obliterated the once refreshing sense of innovation as hope for change.
What is innovation when it comes to education? Using technology to disrupt the learning process impacting it positively to generate a more engaging learning experience as opposed to digitizing the traditional model? Is it developing a personalized schooling experience that caters to every child’s abilities so that they can fully develop their learning potential? Is it giving students autonomy and responsibility so that they can take ownership of their learning journey and be prepared, in the process, to learn for life? Is it changing our practice so that students learn by doing and can exercise their creativity in meaningful ways, so that they can acquire higher order skills that pertain to a completely renewed learning paradigm?
Is it educational innovation when we focus on values so that students can become increasingly self-aware and strengthen their personal and community identity in the irreversibly globalized world? Is it offering a wide variety of options so students can discover their talents and passions and pursue them to the fullest extent? Is it perhaps fostering a growth mindset and doing away with the rigid conceptions of unidimensional academic intelligence? Is it recognizing that education is a profoundly human business and that children cannot learn unless they have a healthy sense of self-esteem and feel loved both at home and at school?
Or is it all of the above?
All that, and more, is not educational innovation. It is simply what school should be. What school should always have been, before we were misguided by whatever collective stupor we were induced into and that made us believe that standardized tests and a one size fits all model could pass as education in the era of measurements and accountability. The fact that what makes perfect sense in education is called innovation is a harsh reflection of our sad state of affairs.
Let’s innovate no more. Let’s simply do what is right for our students. Let’s share with them the joy of learning, of being alive at the best time in history to be a learner. Only then we will truly be innovators, and have no further need to innovate.