Disruption — Top of the class?

Earlier this week I saw a link to the 10 most disruptive UK Businesses pop onto my Linked in news feed.

Exciting news!

More disruption! I love a bit of disruption, I love the thinking that is not the normal thinking, the challenge, the NEW.

I read with interest Richard Branson’s comments that “Disruption is a business mindset that works”.

I don’t think many people disagree with that, not right now. However, some people really dislike the word. And some people really dislike the behaviour, too.

We have always looked upon the inventive and creative in business with awe. We love the new ideas, the “why didnt I think of that?” or the, more likely, “I REALLY wish I’d thought of that!”

So often the change is small or simple and makes huge waves. Sometimes the change is amazing and inspiring and clever and challenges the way we do things from that point on.

Change makers. Voices of difference. They are what we all seek, especially in times of challenge and of uncertainty.

But a question occurs to me. OK, so disruption is great in business. It’s great in Art. It’s great in Science. We need to challenge to learn. We all depend on the changes, the big adjustments, the incremental and evolving disruption.

But how do we handle disruption in our school system? (N.B. I do not want to be seen to be downplaying how brilliant our educators are, not at all. I am such a fan of teachers I must have a T shirt printed)

What I am wondering though is how the system we have built around education manages disruption?

In the UK we have large class sizes, we have a strong focus on success we also have children in those systems who will be ‘disruptive’, and that is seen as a negative. A limiting factor for the other children in the group.

I know, I’ve seen these children, we all have. Maybe you were one of those children?

It makes it hard to manage a large group when you have a challenging student, keen to voice their difference, keen to see things in a different way. The same voice may keep coming up. It may be louder. It may be distracting. It may stop you getting the lesson delivered in the way you envisioned.

It may be tempting to silence that voice.

Indeed how many times have we seen the disruption being translated as ‘non compliant’, or even naughty?

Maybe they are cheeky? Maybe they are cocky? Maybe they are the student you dread? Maybe.

Maybe they are looking for challenge? Maybe.

I don’t have any answers to resolving this. I just know we praise one set of behaviour in one part of life: Disruption and yet in preparation for the real world, in our education system, we do not praise it. It’s seen as a disadvantage.

We need to look deeper into why those people are thinking differently and provide motivation that supports that behaviour in a creative way. Jo Malone, I read with interest in an interview with Richard Reed, highlights the children who have dyslexia when she visits a school, and asks their class mates to thank them for being extraordinary.

Were you disruptive? Are you teaching disruptive students? Are you a disruptive teacher?

I’d be fascinated to hear more about your approach and what you thing you gained from either being a disruptor, or if you think that disruption is just a buzzword that isn’t of value at all. I know people do love it or hate it!

I know from my own experience that providing different contexts and opportunities to children opens them up to identifying their potential and their talents in new directions. I do believe we test too much and we can’t have a one size fits all approach to education, or if we do, then we must understand the risk of the losses we face in the future by not nurturing difference.

Do please comment, like, share and disrupt away.

Dinah Turner is Director of Stepping into Business, a Social Enterprise committed to bringing learning to life for children in the UK.