Ideas don't come from the centre or from the top of a hierarchy. Innovation happens at the fringes of an organization. It happens where people play around with the system. It does not happen through bureaucratic process. The spread of ideas and information is free, leading to a fast rising movement of bottom-up ideation.
If this is happening in the real world, why aren't we embracing this reality in the world of education?
bringing "Quirky" to education...
Quirky.com is the brainchild of Ben Kaufman. It is a site for innovators and inventors to get support in bringing their ideas to life. It operates as a meritocracy where the best ideas (as decided upon by the Quirky Community) are chosen for production. Ideas are tweaked, revisited and ultimately put into production. Quirky does invent the products, rather it provides the means for everyday innovators to launch their stroke of genius. It gets ideas to market.
Kaufman likes to say,
"...the best ideas in the world don't come from the board room, they come from the living room."
Quirky gets roughly 3000 idea submissions per week. The quickest turnaround was for a product called "Pluck" (an egg yoke extractor). It took a mere 29 days to go from idea submission to the store shelf. Quirky provides an opportunity for everyday creators to bridge the difficult step from ideation to creation and distribution.
"Good ideas should be out there because they're the best ideas, not because they're the ideas of the people that somehow have the means to be able to do it."
- Ben Kaufman
School boards must embrace the Quirky model. The are countless ideas out there that never come to fruition because the everyday teacher does not have access to the requisite resources to scale and grow. Sadly, there are too many busted and broken initiatives being pursued relentlessly by the central level They are pursued BECAUSE of who created them and not based on the merit of the idea or initiative.
Central has GREAT value; just not the way it used to be! It's time to rethink the role of central.At the central level, School Boards have access to distribution networks, resource personnel, facilities and reach to help move an idea from inception to actuality. Central staff need to embrace learning from the field rather than vice versa. Instead of focusing on idea and program generation only, central staff MUST start looking to use their resources to help grow ideas from the innovators out there. Remembering that "none of us is smarter than all of us," Shifting to this type of model will create the nimbleness and flexibility to deal with emergent problems and realities in the field. This is not "ivory tower" thinking, this model is rooted in practice and REALITY.
We have a whole generation of teachers in our system who have only known a networked world. They are used to having an audience and sharing ideas. We have to harness this brainpower and outward looking mindset. If we don't we are simultaneously wasting talent and risking disengagement.
STOP pouring money only into workshops and models that involve a transactional approach. It is time to rethink and rework the current model. We don't have to throw away everything, but we must reevaluate and cull practices that are no longer effective.