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Are There Limits to Innovation in Education? Eduardo O C Chaves

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Presentation on theme: "Are There Limits to Innovation in Education? Eduardo O C Chaves"— Presentation transcript:

1 Are There Limits to Innovation in Education? Eduardo O C Chaves

2 Outline  Change in Society and in Education  Why Change in Education Needs to be Drastic  Conditions for Innovation  The Reconceptualization of Education  The Reinvention of the School  Innovative Teachers

3 – 1 – Change in Society and in Education

4 First Thesis Our Western World has undergone drastic, radical changes over the past 60 years Invention of Atom Bomb End of WW II Beginning of the Cold War Invention of the Computer Beginning of the Counter- Culture Invention of the Personal Computer Collapse of Communism End of the Cold War Commercial use of the Internet Microsoft’s School of the Future Summit Microsoft’s Innovative Teachers Forum

5 Second Thesis The motor power for most of these changes was technology: the atom bomb, computers, personal computers, Internet... (Many consider the US Star Wars project to be the last drop that broke the resistance of Communism)

6 Third Thesis Education is a social practice, so whenever society changes in drastic, radical ways education is likely to also go through important changes

7 Fourth Thesis The changes that education will have to undergo to keep pace with the changes in society are not mere improvements in the system: they must be radical innovations that represent a complete overhaul of the system, with a reconceptualization of education and a reinvention of schooling

8 – 2 – Why Change in Education Needs to be Drastic

9 Three Reasons Quasi-universal availability of information and ease of access to it Globalization of communication and ease of travel Learning taking place anytime, anywhere, anyhow (All of these reasons have to do with technology)

10 Information and Knowledge Information, today, is easily available, to be acquired as needed, and access to it is simple and easy Knowledge (differently from information) is seen, today, as something to be built or constructed by each person So, information need not, and knowledge cannot, be transmitted, transferred, delivered... This is the end of the view that education is primarily content delivery, transmission of information and knowledge from the teacher to the student

11 Globalization Not only is access to information easy but access to experts anywhere in the world has become possible, costless and easy (from a technical point of view) If an urgent face-to-face encounter is necessary, it can take place within 24 hours So, the teacher is far from being the only expert to whom the student can resort, in case of need

12 Learning Anyone can now learn anytime, throughout one’s entire life, whenever one needs it Anyone can now learn anywhere, wherever one has access to the Internet Anyone can now learn anyhow, in tacit, non-formal and formal ways So, learning need not, and perhaps even should not, be concentrated in a given period of life (school age) and in a particular place (the school) nor ought it to be “standardized”, “one size fits all”

13 Bringing it All Together... These three reasons (and there are others) force us to conclude that the changes that need to take place in education today are drastic, broad, profound, far- reaching

14 Types of Change Changes can be incremental, and lead to improvement and reform radical, and lead to transformation and innovation Radical changes, that lead to transformation, i.e., to transcending present form, require innovation

15 Technology and Change Technology can be used To sustain and support what we are already doing (conservative use – does not lead to change) To supplement and extend what we are doing (leads to improvement and reform) To subvert and transform what we are doing (leads to transformation and innovation) (George Thomas Scharffenberger, 2004)

16 Reform or Transformation? As the quality of a given school or school system goes down … … the degree of radical innovation that is acceptable in it goes up ! As the quality of a given school or school system goes up … … the degree of radical innovation that is acceptable in it goes down ! (Nicholas Negroponte, 2005)

17 – 3 – Conditions for Innovation

18 What is Innovation? Innovation has to do with what is new The new is not the old, refurbished, warmed over… Innovation is not improvement: it is transformation, it is transcending present form New and old are context-bound terms – and the context, in this case, is defined by the changes that have been taking place in the last sixty years

19 How does Innovation Come About? Creative people Open environments Resources and tools

20 Present Schools and Innovation There is creative people in our schools There are resources and technology in our schools But there is no culture of innovation: the right environment is missing So innovation is rare and difficult to sustain (and technology is not used innovatively) Creative people, even when they have a fair amount of resources and powerful tools (technology), have difficulty generating sustainable innovations if the environment is not right...

21 The Right Environment for Innovation Is open, relatively flat, non-bureaucratic Stimulates initiative and risk-taking Requires and promotes continued learning Views mistakes as an integral part of learning Rewards competent, successful innovation (This kind of environment attracts creative people: see Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class and The Flight of the Creative Class)

22 What Innovation in Education is NOT Teaching technology Integrating technology into the present curriculum Using technology to try to improve teaching in piece- meal, incremental ways

23 Real Innovation in Education To reconceptualize education To reinvent schools To transform ourselves

24 In Other Words... How can we reconceive education, so that it goes beyond (transcends) the present paradigm? How can we reinvent our schools, so they can become open environments that stimulate initiative, require continued learning and reward innovation? How can we recreate ourselves, so we can become truly creative and innovative in facing the demands and the expectations that the 21st century places upon education?

25 – 4 – The Reconceptualization of Education

26 Education and Human Development Education has to do with human development, with realizing human potential Human beings are born totally incompetent and dependent But they are also born with an incredible capacity to learn Education is the process by which incompetence is translated into competence, dependence into autonomy This process takes place through learning

27 Learning To learn is to become capable of doing that which one was not able to do before To learn is to build one’s competence to act with autonomy The learning that is essential to human life has two sides to it: To become able to freely define one’s life project To become competent to transform it into reality

28 Education, Learning and Collaboration “No one educates any one else. Nor do we educate ourselves. We educate one another, in communion, in the context of living in this world” (Paulo Freire, 1979)

29 – 5 – The Reinvention of the School

30 Learning Environments Living a life that is fulfilling and leads to personal realization is the most creative accomplishment anyone can achieve Helping students to learn how to live this kind of life is the most challenging task of education This type of learning requires rich and stimulating learning environments that are centered on the needs and interests of the learners and that are clearly focused on human development and on competence-building

31 A Learner-Centered School Built into life (related to the learner’s life project) Centered on the learner’s needs and interests Driven by demand Aimed at problem-solving (project-based) Focused on building competence & autonomy Learning is active, hands-on Learning is collaborative and yet individualized to the level of personalization Learning takes place when needed (just in time) & in small modules (just enough) Learning is lifelong and always focused on the future Learning is deeply personal and yet always enhanced and often mediated by technology

32 – 6 – Innovative Teachers

33 Teachers In this kind of school teachers shouldn’t be teaching... (well, unless students insist that they do so !) In this kind of school teachers should listen and watch first, and then orient, advise, support, cheer, facilitate, instigate, ask questions (rather than give answers), open new horizons, gently provoke, give incentive, be coaches, mentors, role models... These roles for teachers are more important than their role as content deliverers !

34 Innovative Teachers Innovative teachers are the ones that use their creativity in order to help students become truly creative in the living of their lives Innovative teachers are the ones that use their creativity to support the building of this kind of “school of the future” (needed in the present) Innovative teachers are not the ones that learn to use technology well, but rather the ones that empower their students to use technology to learn

35 Thank you ! Eduardo O C Chaves


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