Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Innovation Takes Time

There is an old adage that is very true -- if you don't make time for it, it isn't important. Lately I've been seeing a load of articles, blog posts, and tweets about encouraging student innovation. I have nothing against it; in fact, I'm happy to see educators take notice of it. Innovation is a wonderful thing and if we really want students to understand the world of creative thinking, innovation is important... But are you making time for it? It follows all of the other initiatives that get thrown at us in field of education -- reflective practice, rigor, standards, the list could go on and on. We are really good at adding, but not so good at subtracting. It is a major problem. We cannot do it all. We can't. No, seriously, we can't do it all. At some point a quality leader will look at the amount of initiatives and say, "We are going to cut the number in half and do the items we decide to keep really, really well." Or at least that is what a quality leader should do, it doesn't happen too often in my experience. It is so easy to add more.

Which brings me back to innovation. Let me tell you something about innovation that I know is a fact -- it takes time. A lot of time. Innovation doesn't fit into 55 minute or 75 minute blocks very well. It is difficult to plan innovation, because to have novel ideas that can turn in to meaningful and useful products or programs, it requires the mind to be in a state flow. We basically need to be in a state of structured play. Play doesn't really work well without time to engage in it. So, are you planning time for students to play? To explore? To be fascinated by something? If you aren't, then innovation really isn't important to you or your institution and you should focus on something else. If you don't put time in the schedule, the message is that it isn't important. Period. End of story.