The Split Screen Strategy: Improvement and Innovation

In my last blogpost I suggested that Innovation + Autonomy = Results is key to 21st century learning. Innovation and Autonomy are taking many forms in schools around the country. But let’s face it—too few teachers and schools see this as an option.

Critics claim that not all teachers are ready for this. That’s true. Not all teachers are ready for chartering either. They don’t have to be. But let’s not deny the opportunity for those entrepreneurial teachers who want to accept the challenge.

I subscribe to the Education Evolving Split Screen Strategy:  Improvement and Innovation. We continue to improve traditional schools. But in parallel, we run a sector truly open to innovation.

As national education policy leader Ted Kolderie recently wrote, “truly innovative” means not asking teachers what is their innovation. What they try is up to them. We won’t require that their ideas be “researched-based” because research can’t evaluate what hasn’t been tried. We must trust teachers with taking a risk. Innovation will be a choice for both teachers and students; the scale will be small, failures quickly corrected.

Does that sound familiar? It sounds a lot like chartering. Chartering is a parallel innovation too. It might have veered into some directions we didn’t expect, but think about the impact that chartering made on a K-12 public education system that subscribes to sameness. Today, some districts collaborate and share innovations with charter schools.  We learn from each other as to what’s working.

Innovation + Autonomy = Results is the same formula that gave rise to chartering in the 1990s. It can work for 21st century learning as well.

Education today must be about adapting to a changing world. Kids are ready for change. They embrace it. We can’t let a risk-adverse K-12 public education system hold them back. Our collective future is at stake.

How can we motivate our public education system to change the way that other successful systems change? Check out next week’s blogposts.