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  • Writer's pictureNathan McLean

The case against innovation

As the second year of my Masters of Teaching kicks into gear, my interest has been piqued in the most unlikeliest of places, being a subject called Information Technology: Secondary School (my impression so far is this subject could be the POG for Semester 1). As an ice-breaker we were asked to watch a video by Gary Stager, who you've almost certainly never heard of, yet he has clearly been around the block in the educational space. He has a very interesting take on innovation that is well worth a look! Whilst the video is 30 minutes long, the natural pro gamer move is to play at double speed.

The points that I think were particularly powerful (perhaps because they are not necessarily intuitive) are:

  • Genuine innovation is natural. There is a lot of truth to this. Often people mistake something simply being "new" as therefore being "innovative", but they are not the same thing, and often imposing the shiny "new" object just results in forcing square pegs in round holes.

  • The points Gary made about innovation in the context of business (in particular startups) all resonated strongly, in particular the problems underpinning the desire for "scale" (which is simply taken as given in the startup world).

  • Can we really point to any "true" innovations in learning (as opposed to simply innovations in the education system)? I think this is a powerful question to consider.

  • Every "problem" in education has already been solved before. This claim has Ecclesiastes vibes: "there is nothing new under the sun".

  • I thought the education policy spiral was spot on in explaining the process by which teachers can become looked down upon as failures who don't get "results".

  • I think the connections Gary draws between democracy and education are important to consider, in particular how the way education is approached can affect how democracy manifests in society.

Ultimately, what I found most shocking is that a video with so many truth bombs can, after nearly a year and a half on YouTube, only have amassed 248 views. The algorithm must be broken.



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