firstly, i’m ashamed it has been nearly two months since my last post. i’m not ashamed in the sense that i’m letting someone down; i don’t have a readership per se. i’m disappointed that my professional life hasn’t allowed me to put down my thoughts on ‘paper’. suffice it to say it’s been dark. all that aside…this is what i was thinking about on my way to work this morning.
does innovation require intelligence?
i was thinking about teachers and how some are great at being innovative in their practices and others that aren’t. first i chalked it up to fear; some teachers are so deathly afraid that they won’t stray from the script. test scores suffer? principal might catch them? colleagues might frown upon them? take your pick, but i think some teachers have the capacity to be innovative, but they listen to their lizard brain as Seth Godin would call it. they just can’t pull the trigger. but maybe that’s not it.
i thought it might be teaching background. perhaps their path to teaching didn’t include courses on paving a new path or trying something that could as easily blow up in their face as it could be brilliant. it was about time my hypotheses starting getting unsettling. what if a teacher, who had never been schooled in the art of innovation taught in a school with other teachers who had never tried being innovative in the classroom either? wow. is that even possible? could a school be jammed full of teachers who just want handouts and the teachers edition?
crossing the train tracks and nearly to work, i came up with my last possibility, that some teachers don’t have the mastery of content to be innovative; that some teachers aren’t comfortable enough to take the risks inherent with innovation. this saddens me. if you don’t know your content, it’s hard to tweak your methods. the title of the post is a bit harsh and i would hope that it is a bit of hyperbole. it comes down to two not-so-simple questions.
do you have to be intelligent to innovate? i think this answer is going to be somewhere closer to yes than no. like i said earlier, you can’t manipulate the learning environment without the fundamentals (content & pedagogy) down pat.
are those people who innovate always intelligent? not sure, but i think the answer to this one is yes also. i’m not sure how you can innovate without some sort of ‘smarts’ be them classical school intelligence or the kind of practical/contextual intelligence we’ve read about.
if a teacher doesn’t innovate in their classroom, which is the preferable reason – does’t know how, too scared, or lacks the content mastery?