Innovate; vb. To invent or begin to apply (methods, ideas, etc.) So that’s what it means! Some of the synonyms I like are; change, transform, reorganise and renovate.
As you are all aware innovation is, and has been for some time, one of the key ‘buzz words’ in FE. (Can I still say buzz word?) There are some that would call me an innovator, although I believe that sometimes I’m just an adaptive thief. The real key to innovation though is not to innovate for innovation’s sake. If you actually experimented with everything you came across it would be very confusing for all. I have heard teachers being told to be brave and experiment in classes. This is not something I would advocate on a regular basis. “It doesn’t matter if it goes wrong, at least you tried.”
No, actually it does matter if it goes wrong (OK maybe once is cool) but young people can have a intolerance of fools just like ‘grown ups’. I do advocate courage though, students (like a lot of people) don’t always take well to change. Henry Ford once said, regarding the Model T Ford, “ If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said, a faster horse.”
Something I began to apply this year is a diary, a kind of lesson diary. It’s ‘reflective practice’ but sounds less academic. One thing that has come out of the diary is that every lesson that was planned down to the final detail was a good one. Even when it went pear shaped it was still a good lesson. In fact I think a lesson where the planning went pear shaped was better, but maybe it was more challenging to try and pull it back and so more interesting for me. I like to think of a lesson as play. If all the actors came on stage without learning their lines I guess the theater would be empty in about ten minutes, but then you get a golden moment where an actor adlibs and the play takes on a new breath of life. In the acting world it’s called improvisation.
Now is that innovation? Because I sometimes think that in today’s technological society unless it’s on a laptop, tablet or pc then you’re not a true innovator. My latest idea is ‘UniCarpentry Challenge’ Yes it’s the same as University Challenge but for Carpentry students. I don’t intend to do this until next year, as having conceived the idea, I realise that there is going to be a lot of work getting it right, although I may have a trial run at the end of term to see how well it is received.
So, lest we forget, change, transform, reorganise and renovate. I do like those words.