Sunday, September 18, 2016

#IMMOOC Introduction: Education ≠ School

#IMMOOC Introduction Reflection: Honest Answers, Insecurities Included

If you asked people you knew to define "education," I would bet many would say it has something (or a lot of things) to do with "school."  It's a reasonable expectation that education and school go together.  Maybe 10 years ago (5 years ago?), this would have been true, but in a 21st Century world, I just can't believe these two words are synonymous anymore.  Loosely tied, yes, but they are no longer each others' equals.  Dan Brown talks a lot about this distinction in his video, "An Open Letter to Educators."

But really though: Education ≠ School.

What do you see as the purpose of education?  Why might innovation be crucial in education?

In this world our students live in now, education has an entirely different meaning and purpose.  Education is now the way in which we empower the next generation to seek out problems and solve them through messy trial, error, and eventually collaborative efforts of crazy-hard critical thinking.  The purpose of education, of us as educators is to create thinkers, questioners, leaders, doers, and problem solvers.  Unfortunately, in many places that's not quite what education is; in many places education creates memorizers, test-takers, followers, and uninspired citizens who accept things for how they appear to be.  That's why innovation in education is crucial.  We need more of the first rather than the latter.  

In my last blog post, Innovation Through the Lens of 9/11, I talked about the unintended job requirements of teachers now.  As educators, we have to provide new and different opportunities for students to receive an "education" vs. "schooling" if we ever hope equip them with the "most powerful weapon" we possibly can.  Curiosity, change, innovation: these are all elements of what education really is.

So how am I contributing to this changing definition of education... well, I'm working on it.  And I'll keep working on it, until I have an answer to the question below. Thanks to George, I also know I may never a complete answer because "there is no end to growth and learning."

“Change is an opportunity to do something amazing.”  How are you embracing change to spur innovation in your own context?

My job title: "Innovative Learning Specialist."  This implies to people that I specialize in innovative learning. (I sometimes secretly freak out that my title is bigger than my capabilities! Eek!)  For the most part, I would say this is true, especially looking back on my days in the classroom.  But now my challenges have shifted; how can I change the way teacher professional development looks and feels to inspire innovation in MANY classrooms instead of just my own?

On page 4 of Innovator's Mindset, George Couros says that our job as educators is to "... spark a curiosity that empowers students to learn on their own."  This was always my goal as a middle school teacher, and still is a goal of mine now as I provide professional development for teachers all over northern Indiana.  But the struggle is real.  I talk a little about it in my #IMMOOC Twitter reflection. 

I am always trying to think about ways I can flip teacher PD on its traditional "sit-and-get" head.  How can I move past the specific spoon-fed trainings that many teachers think they want and need, and empower them to learn those things on their own once they realize the power of new (but different) learning opportunities?

My goal moving forward with this book study is to find ways I can more effectively MODEL my specialization in innovative learning vs. TELLING about how to create innovative learning opportunities in education. 


  1. Love your passion! My district has been very supportive in my quest to provide "above the line" trainings rather than the "spoon-fed" trainings. Many times I provide that spoon feeding right from the source. If you want to know how to use Google is a link to Google's trainings. Teachers in my district will be able to receive CPDUs for completing the PD options, but each offering starts with a comment about needing a general understanding of the concepts/apps/programs before moving on. Many links are provided to get teachers the background they need.

    1. Don,
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. And I totally agree with you about providing links to videos and tutorials to the basic training elements... kind of like Flipped PD! I know George Couros talks a lot about letting his participants "figure it out," and often times I try to encourage that too. It's scary and hard for many teachers; we just have to keep encouraging them and modeling for them how the end result can really transform learning for their kiddos!

  2. Love the thought of flipping Professional Learning on it's ear and making it innovative! Sit and Get doesn't work, and if we consider the needs of our learners, we simply have to change how we teach teachers. One of the many reasons I love the coaching model is it does make us challenge our practice!


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