February 29, 2016
This post first appeared on Edutopia.
Lately, I have heard teachers and school leaders express a common frustration: “We are _______ years into a _______ initiative, and nothing seems to have changed.” Despite redesigning learning spaces, adding technology, or even flipping instruction, they still struggle to innovate or positively change the classroom experience. Imagine innovation as a three-legged stool. Many schools have changed the environment leg, but not the other two legs: the behaviors and beliefs of the teachers, administrators, and students.
Consider this conundrum: much of what we know about teaching comes from 16+ years of observation as students. In no other profession do you spend that much time watching the previous generation before being told to change everything once you take control. Without the framework or scaffolding for that change, it’s truly unreasonable to tell educators, “OK, start innovating.”
If we look at the science of improvement, systematic change occurs between the contexts of justification (what we know) and discovery (the process of innovation). What if we view Project-Based Learning and Design Thinking as possible bridges between those two contexts? What if these frameworks could serve as the justification for discovering new classroom practice?