Needed: Educator Inventors

Edith Ackerman:

“Educators in particular will need to invent new ways for their students — and themselves — to safely and successfully venture off the beaten paths, without losing their grounds and bearings.”

Ira Socol:

“Inventors need to understand the need for invention in order to begin.”

Invent” is a powerful word, right? It means to “create or design something that has not existed before; to be the originator of.”

If we apply that high bar definition to education, what have we invented lately? Sure, there are new software programs and platforms that increase our efficiency, and some clicker-y tools that supposedly help us teach “better.” But from a practice perspective, what’s really “new?” Flipped classrooms? Blended learning? Hour of Code?

Not much.

It’s getting harder to argue that we don’t need high bar invention in education right now. But in order to invent with relevance, we have to be clear about the problem we’re trying to solve. As Edith suggests, there’s a growing urgency to “rethink the raison d’etre” of schools. As Ira suggests, the lack of teachers who themselves struggled in school has led to a narrowing of thinking about change. There are bigger questions, more complex contexts that the inventors “need to understand” in order to design the new systems and experiences our kids now need.

That’s Job 1 in schools right now: Identifying, discussing, grappling with the bigger questions. Understanding the need to invent.

Originally published at on May 17, 2016.

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