The Price of Innovation

A colleague recently forwarded me information about NEA grants for teachers. The application declares that “[w]e support new ideas and practices to strengthen teaching and learning. Our goal is to fund and share successful strategies to educate and prepare students for bright and rewarding futures.” If you know a teacher from your home district who has made a difference in your life, please share the link.

I’d also like you to ponder this: how strongly should we associate “innovation” and education? I’m genuinely curious. It seems to me that many of the things that prove especially enriching involve classroom practices that have been around since Socrates. The content has changed, but the teaching practices have not. I have tried new teaching practices from time to time; sometimes they don’t align with my goals, sometimes they do. I don’t like group work, for instance, because it’s harder to assess fairly, and because some go-getter always does too much of the work. Yet I am also eager to incorporate new content into courses; nor do I mind allowing students to read work from screens rather than dead trees when it’s convenient for them.

Perhaps I would rewrite the application to encourage teachers to make classroom practices relevant rather than “new.” The two aren’t necessarily the same.

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29 Responses to The Price of Innovation

  1. Brianna Ladnier says:

    Why fix something that isn’t broken? I have to admit that a teaching style that worked 20 years ago won’t be as effective today. You have to make minor adjustments in order to maintain interest and the increase in knowledge between students. If something is effective and works, there is no need to have some “revolutionary” teaching style that might not be any more effective. The best “revolutionary” quality teacher’s can have is to listen to the students. If the students are happy, why change what is working?

  2. Gene Kloss says:

    Innovation and Education are two things that are both very similar and very different. Quite often, many people take creativity classes just so they can be more innovative. Other times, people try to innovate, fail miserably, and learn from it. An example of this would be found within the sales report of Nintendo’s Virtual Boy. It was an innovative piece of technology which was essentially a Virtual Reality headset in the 90’s. Nintendo more than likely learned from their mistakes, and are apparently planning on making another Virtual Reality headset in the near future.
    In the classroom, a teacher might consider using the scientific method with innovation. If a few classes do really well with one method but others do poorly with another, then you can determine which method is superior. Yes, you may be doing a disservice to the experimental group, but you can find out what works best.

  3. P. Patel says:

    Education is something that evolves everyday. Nothing is wrong or right in the way a teacher teaches. However, teachers are changing their teaching styles to fit modern needs. For example, instead of using a chalk board teachers are using smart boards. At the end of the day, the result will end in if the student is happy in the teachers teaching style or not. If the students are happy than there is no need in changing the teaching style of teachers.

    • Vera L. Taire says:

      Not Curtis!!

      But is the goal the student’s happiness, or is the goal their education? And how should we measure either of those quantities?

    • Vera L. Taire says:

      I think Revitalization might be a better word than innovation or relevant. In my opinion, the problem is teachers aren’t caring about their students and students aren’t caring about school. I see a lot of commenters saying we shouldn’t change the things that make students happy or that have worked for 10-20 years.
      But is the goal the student’s happiness, or is the goal their education? And how should we measure either of those quantities?
      I think the goal of education is to empower students- and educators- with knowledge and purpose. We need to value each other and produce well-rounded people. As per the measurement, it isn’t that hard to show someone what it means to feel confident and then ask them if they feel that way away from school. People need life skills and encouragement to develop ideas. The same methods can be used, if they’re used right. Let’s just revitalize the people.

  4. Kamal Bhalla says:

    Education is something that I feel that evolves with time and one can always improve that. While change is not always a good thing, seeing what works for each teacher and their classroom can help them a lot. If something is wrong then one should change it rather than keep thinking about it. I don’t really think that using this website could really “harm” a teacher’s teachings ways, but possibly help them.

    • P. Patel says:

      I agree with you on changing something if it seems wrong rather than pondering on it. The reason for that is because if you keep pondering than it will cause more harm than benefit.

  5. Mariana Strawn says:

    It is true that some of the most effective teaching styles and methods have been around since the times of Socrates. However, new techniques for teaching students have proved effective and it is worth the time of the teacher to think of new methods. I feel that it is simply a matter of what works and what doesn’t. Chances are that a new technique won’t be completely “revolutionary”, however, teachers and students should still strive to find new ways to make education more exciting and effective. Furthermore, “innovation” could also mean looking back into the teaching methods of previous intellectuals and finding an effective technique that hasn’t been used and incorporating it into the classroom. To make an example, my previous english teacher made a point to make Socratic Seminars part of our curriculum. In the end, students were able to enjoy the seminars and learn from not only the teacher’s perspective but that of the students’. It became so popular that teachers around the district began incorporating them into their curriculums. This is an example of something that a teacher didn’t invent but its usage was “innovative”. In the end it doesn’t matter which technique a teacher uses but that the technique is effective in making the student learn and enjoy the learning experience.

  6. Daudreanna Baker says:

    I agree with Bri. Though material has undoubtedly changed, the methods have and should remain constant, for the most part. I believe the more experience you have in a topic or method the better you are at it. For instance, if a teacher has been teaching students grammar rules by use of handouts and worksheets for the past 15 years, this same teacher would not have as great a success rate from students if they taught these same rules by way of PowerPoint, a relatively “newer” method. Not because the teacher is incompetent in their subject, but because of their inexperience with this particular method and their lack of knowledge of student receptiveness using it. With that being said, no teacher should be a prude and still teach using the same methods and materials as their first year teaching back in the 80s. Technology and information has vastly changed since those times. For example, being taught to use a typewriter in middle school in 2016 would be wildly redundant. Therefore, a teachers methods should evolve with the times but not so much that it affects their teaching efficiency. A teacher’s should pick methods that they believe both benefits the student and allows them to teach at their maximum capacity.

  7. Sabrina Solomon says:

    I’m genuinely involved with education because of being raised by a teacher and aspiring to be an educator after college. I have shared the link with my previous Spanish teacher not because she needs new teaching styles but because she does not get the recognition of her excellent teaching, even with out of date Spanish textbooks. I believe that a teacher shouldn’t teach in a way that he/she isn’t passionate about. My previous teachers taught “to the book” or “to the test”. In my opinion, this style of teaching doesn’t make anyone happy. The teacher is teaching either something he/she doesn’t want to teach or something that he/she doesn’t understand. I love the teachers at MSMS because they teach in a style that he/she enjoys and understands. I believe that the open policies about how we as students take notes and do homework on our various screens affects how we learn. We learn with all different styles of teaching, and they should be determined by the teacher. As Dr. E said, he doesn’t prefer group work, yet other teachers might enjoy seeing a collective answer. Instead of “new”, I would encourage teachers to teach in passion not in styles. I strongly believe that teachers are the makers of who we are as people. Whether we are millionaires or thugs, teachers are the ones who influenced are decisions and thoughts of life. Education is a passion of mine, and I think teachers should be the innovators of what they believe in.

  8. Sarah Swiderski says:

    I feel that education should focus more on effectiveness that innovation. True, the world around us is always changing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that people are adapting. Ask any educator and I guarantee they will say that each child learns differently. Or, at least, they should. So of course, education should be interesting, but that’s not rocket science. For instance, I had a teacher who threw a hole puncher out of his classroom to teach us what “defenestration” meant. That hole puncher hit a student and broke apart, but I surely learned a new word that day . It seems to be that the problem in education lies in educators not caring(students too, but we’re not worried about them right now). Too often in Mississippi we have “Coach Calculus Teacher”. If people really want education, in a general sense, to improve, wise investment may be in preparing teachers. The world around us is changing constantly, but if we run too fast to keep up with it, we might leave some students behind. I say make minor changes to a proven method, but don’t forget what we’re working towards here.

  9. Angella Osinde says:

    There are a lot of factors to consider when you ask what makes the classroom a success. Content is one big factor yes, but what about access to materials and support for your teaching ideas. One teacher might believe that technology may enrich the classroom, but may not have the resources for it.

    As far as changing up teaching methods – I say it depends on (1) the students and their learning styles (2) the course which is taught (3) resources available

  10. AK Mynatt says:

    As a student, going from teacher to teacher throughout the day is like changing clothes. Every teacher is different. One teacher may like to teach with no electronics involved while another may base their whole lesson on a computer. There are a few in-betweeners who use some technology, but also keep it in the books at the same time. That is not the point though. The point is that every teacher has a different way of getting their subject’s curriculum through a student’s head. If what they are doing is working, then it should not be changed. However, the upcoming generations do not want to be just as intelligent as the last. They want to be better. In order to become more intelligent or “better”, innovation must be a factor. Generations to come will not be smarter using the exact same teaching techniques as the last.

  11. Devon Matheny says:

    Innovation is shown through everything in our lives, especially since we humans are changing daily. Whether teachers are using SmartBoards or chalkboards as a method for teaching, whatever is the most effective and can get the student to learn is the most “revolutionary” to me. I think that as long as a student can effectively learn (not by simply doing nothing obviously), then a teacher is doing their job and is doing an effective teaching job.

  12. Kendall Wells says:

    Using technology or a book will not change the outcome of student’s grades. Personally, I enjoy learning from the book, but some people believe newer is better. Of course adjustments have to be made to education in order to move forward as time does, but completely changing a course from book to computer is not necessary to improve the grades of students. It all depends on the teacher and student engagement. Instead of focusing on the technology used to teach, we should focus on teachers. Teachers are raising the future, and one bad teacher can make a dent in one’s education later on. (Little side story: I took biology in 9th grade and we didn’t do anything but worksheets and watch movies. Now I struggle to keep an A in Cell Bio because I have no idea what is going on in class.)

    • P. Patel says:

      I agree with you on the topic that using technology or a book will not effect the outcome of a students grade. The reason for that is because if someone is determined than they will find a way to study.

  13. Kayla Patel says:

    I believe that teaching styles should evolve and should be based on the students that you are teaching. Technology can be a very resourceful tool, but it should not be the primary tool used in the classrooms. I like learning with hard cover books, but there is the issue of them becoming outdated and expensive to replace. I think they should be a healthy balance of the both used in the classrooms to get the most effective results.

  14. Briana Johnston says:

    At MSMS, teachers teach in the best way fro their students to learn. The teachers allow the use of electronics in the classroom (most of them anyways… *cough* Dr. Hester) for note taking and electronic submissions. Also, the teachers find innovative, and sometimes quirky, ways to teach the material. I feel as long as the students are learning and understanding the material than whatever methods work should be used. Just because a teaching method is “new” or “technological-based”, doesn’t mean that it’s the most effective. Students learn in different ways and the most effective teaching styles are those that address the needs of the students. Instead of schools and teachers focusing on the “newest” way, they should focus on the way that best caters to the needs of their students. It isn’t bad to test out new teaching methods, but if they aren’t working, it’s time to move on to something that is.

  15. Amber Jackson says:

    Innovation isn’t only associated with technology. I feel that innovation would be anything that captures your student’s attention (as far as teaching). Compared to Socrates, I would say that we really don’t associate innovation with education. Most teachers in education don’t really require free thought in their classroom. It’s more like I’m teaching you this and you’re expected to learn it. I feel like MSMS is more innovative and effective in their teaching styles because you don’t just learn it. You derive the equation. You don’t just learn it, you do a lab about it and explain your results. For the majority, innovation isn’t associated with education because the lack of freedom of thought.

  16. Steven says:

    Innovation is important to be applied in society, but I don’t personally believe that people should spend too much time coming up with innovative methods. I believe that we already have plenty of methods of teaching that are practical, and practicality (which equates to efficiency) is most important to me. I believe strongly in innovation, but I also believe that students should only be motivated to make innovations, not have innovations pushed onto them. The material should be handed to them effectively, and they should be encouraged to put their own thought into it. If I could change the way that education works, however, I would want to eliminate systematically unhealthy concepts such as class ranking (congrats MSMS) and make concepts such as GPA more specifically defined since the way it works is somewhat black and white. But the way education is being taught is perfectly fine. A bigger problem is expanding to all places that need it more and making it more engaging.

  17. Landry Filce says:

    I think that the time period that a teaching method was conceived in does not matter as much as the effectiveness of the method. For example, Socratic discussion in the classroom is a wonderful way to get students to think more deeply about a concept or question, and cements it into their brain. However, new teaching methods have also proven effective. For example, one of my friends in my hometown is not satisfied with the education she is receiving at school, so she uses a website called Khan Academy to supplement her learning. This website is basically a free online teacher and is much more accessible than other independent learning methods used before it. To conclude, I think that innovation is good, but it is not superior to methods that are tried & true.

  18. Samuel Patterson says:

    It is true that the generic Socrates era style of teaching is becoming obsolete in the technological era. Mainly because it has ceased to evolve to fulfill the needs of its students. In fact, the longer we keep this system the further we drift from mending education with innovation. Education and Innovation should be strongly associated because it benefits the ever changing student.

  19. Lydia Holley says:

    I feel education evolves over time, but many teachers I know don’t want to take the time to find new ways to teach. They would rather just read from the book and not answer questions the students have, rather than making a powerpoint on the points that will be on the test.

  20. Yousef Abu-Salah says:

    The modern world has transformed how we view teaching. The ways that Socrates taught have continued to be utilized even in our modern age; however, this cannot go on for long. Technology is constantly improving, and students are becoming ever smarter as well. This renders Socrates’s teaching styles as obsolete, because it does not require the full participation of students. Education and innovation go hand-in-hand, and education will only continue to improve as innovation continues to progress. Innovation can never truly stop growing; therefore, education can never truly stop being reinvented. However, innovation can only take place if we progress past the past and towards the future. This is the only way in order to grow.

  21. Erin Owens says:

    If a teaching method works 10-20 years before it should not be discarded. However, advances in technology should play a factor, as they offer a broad range of information at an affordable price.

  22. Vera L. Taire says:

    I think Revitalization might be a better word than innovation or relevant. In my opinion, the problem is teachers aren’t caring about their students and students aren’t caring about school. I see a lot of commenters saying we shouldn’t change the things that make students happy or that have worked for 10-20 years.
    But is the goal the student’s happiness, or is the goal their education? And how should we measure either of those quantities?
    I think the goal of education is to empower students- and educators- with knowledge and purpose. We need to value each other and produce well-rounded people. As per the measurement, it isn’t that hard to show someone what it means to feel confident and then ask them if they feel that way away from school. People need life skills and encouragement to develop ideas. The same methods can be used, if they’re used right. Let’s just revitalize the people.

    • Patel says:

      I agree with you because at the end of the day all that matters is the success of the students. We should make the students feel confident and not bring them down at any cost. Every student has different methods of learning, but whatever turns out to be successful should be used.

  23. Jagger Riggle says:

    I think “initiative” could be more implemented into the classroom. As we discover more things, especially about how our brain works when learning, we could use that to help kids in the classroom. Implementing things that could help kids grasp what is going on could be a big help. They may discover that learning is fun, and that they can excel in class. This could lead to them going into higher degrees in college which could further help the education, and even the world, in the future. New things may let the kids feel that it is more relevant to them because it is ‘closer’ to them. Learning about the new things, to me, is more interesting (usually history in this case) because I can better relate to them. However, if something new is not relevant, then it should not be taught as if it is more important. If one topic or idea is more important/relevant than another one, then the more relevant one should be used even if it is older.

  24. Shuchi Patel says:

    I believe both new and old methods are acceptable. Most teachers are attached to chalk boards, pen and paper, books, and marker boards. Everyone has different learning styles, but I believe different variables such as the methods used to teach a topic will not really affect the outcome of the student’s grades. If a student wants to learn something, they will find a way. So, any teaching method is acceptable to me.

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