Friday, June 19, 2015

#youredustory, Week 24: Pedagogical Innovation

Prompt: What is pedagogical innovation?

Hmm. Can there be real pedagogical innovation? Legit ‘this has never been done in a classroom before’ things still in education?

Or are there so many ideas within education - ideas that have come in and out of vogue, then back into fashion again - that we’re just recycling? Can we really innovate? Are we really “making changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, and products” within education? (Thanks, Google, for that definition.) I’m not sure there is a lot of pedagogical innovation that is available if that is your definition - it is a pretty high bar.

Part of the design thinking task on
South Africa
Unsurprisingly, I think we need to look at pedagogical innovation a bit more loosely. When I did a weeklong design thinking task in my history class this past semester, was it pedagogically innovative? No. I’m sure that there are plenty of other history teachers who have not only integrated design thinking into their classrooms, but done a much better job at it than I have.

However, for me, this was a pedagogical innovation. It was new. It was something I hadn’t done before with students. I had no idea how long aspects of the task would take. I had no idea where kids might get stuck. Or where they might make incredible progress, or show great depth of thought.

To me, then, pedagogical innovation is intensely personal. What is innovative to me may be second nature to others. Something they could do in their sleep. And vice versa - what is boring to me may be incredibly innovative to others.

The important thing here is to not lose patience with people who are taking risks in their classroom. Even if the risk is, in your mind, small or nonexistent, we MUST celebrate those risks. Shine a light on them. Recognize the attempt, the outcome that was in doubt, and the learning that happened from the risk.

Because my risk is someone else’s second nature.

And education isn’t going to change the way we want it to unless we can have teachers - and students - feeling comfortable and supported taking risks, innovating on their terms.


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