Volunteers Wanted. Safety not assured.

“Innovation is not about creating something better, it’s about being allowed to do something different”

I think it’s great to high-five a colleague doing well, but let’s not diminish innovation as a job-well done. To get though the thicket of indifference at the bureaucratic level – volunteers are needed – and they will rarely be the same people who are chosen by panel to get the award for ‘innovative teacher’. Being brave enough to try is innovation (step one) and worth its weight in iFads. How to you measure and award that? We don’t. We award what can be showcased – and that is stupid.

“Nature seemed to be filled with wonderful things that I wanted to immerse myself into” Jung (1973)

It’s school all over again. The award for most innovative teacher relies  entirely on culture, bias and subjectivity – innovation without technology – unthinkable right now. These awards are by their nature de-motivating to most people – and that’s the probably the point of them.

An innovation award is in part used not to inspire, but to stabilize and reinforce cultural norms. To be taken seriously, innovation can be encouraged simply by sending out an email to all teachers saying “we now allow everyone to think differently, we trust your judgement as professionals”. Innovation (as seen by bureaucratic panels) is meaningless, and as the literature shows, actually de-motivates teachers from thinking differently – as it’s well known that school does not value the type of intelligence that promotes ‘different thinking’ (Darwin, Einstein, Jung – and possibly numerous other outstanding researchers – found themselves completely bored in school).

Simonton (1994, 1999) shows that they nurtured their motivation to learn through their personal goal to become self-directed learners. Darwin told his cousin Francis Galton: “I consider that all that I have learned of any value has been self-taught” (Simonton, 1999, p. 120). Simonton’s work, as well as Ochse’s (1990), and Zuckerman’s (1977, 1983) show that to achieve their goals, they all used the same strategies: reading, exploration, and establishing a sustained and meaningful relationship with one or many mentors. – Rolland Viau (1994)

We might as well base innovation awards on playing 5 rounds of Team Fortress, Chess, Dance Revolution, Building a tree-house or finger-painting … at least then we can see how they think – instead we play social mind Hunger Games.

Stuff that. I think there should be an award called “Dissidence in thinking” Nominations in the comments please.

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