Image depicting creative process

The Tyranny of Innovation

Today (29th November) I sat in a room full of people who support teachers in further education*, they were earnest and honest and quite frankly a little overloaded in the size of the work they need to do, with little budget, and little support. And still I heard stories of people making great progress and making change happen. And also I heard stories of creativity – something I touched on in my last post.

The people in the room told me about how they saw creativity, when they gave teachers space for creativity. And we also talked about how innovation was driven down onto them, because innovation is in the strategy, not creativity. And I wondered about that. You can’t mandate creativity, you can only make space for it. And that means where we do see it, it’s because someone has done the work to make the space for someone to experiment, play, to think, to be creative in a safe space.

We put “innovation” in the strategy because we think that if we don’t see people doing interesting things, we need to tell them what innovation looks like.

“You will now use this EdTech in your teaching – we had the vendor in – they said it was innovative practice!”

But we also create our own tyranny of innovation with the best of intentions!  At this time of year many of us will write our forecasts for EdTech, will tell people the next big things in education over the coming months. Or we might appropriate something festive, perhaps running something like the 12 apps of christmas? Or the Advent EdTech Calendar.

I offer:

A plea.
An appeal.
A request to give people space and peace this year!

Let us abstain from the tyranny of innovation, let’s not tell people all things that might happen in tech or teaching, or make them feel inadequate by telling them all the apps and tools their peers are using; lets not overload people by trying to force innovation on to them.

Let’s give peace a chance, let’s encourage them to take stock, to reflect, let’s say one thing: let’s say “take some time, be creative, no pressure.”

Happy holidays – see you on the other side.

*Huge thank you to Julian Bream for organizing the event today and Chris Roberts and the Lambeth College Team for hosting.

28 thoughts on “The Tyranny of Innovation

  1. A great wee post, advocating for space and peace for people to be creative this year! As @Lawrie rightly points out, you can’t mandate creativity, you can only make space for it…

  2. Couldn’t agree more – there is nothing more off putting when you go to many talks (but trust these are done with the best of intentions) that ‘innovation’ and ‘creativity’ get thrown at you constanly but that we design conditions that allow staff to take stock, open up if they wish on teaching that matter to them. These things take time. Like an ice cube to melt – the conditions need to be set or at least facilitated without getting to microscopic on trying to be the solution to everything, otherwise we open to many worm holes.

  3. Hmmm… yes but… just giving space doesn’t necessarily aid creativity or innovation, what about the context, cultural signals, recognition, funding, empowerment to do something with what you create…

  4. Totally agree, structural issues need to be addressed too. My argument was aimed at those well meaning folk who try and fill up the few spaces for reflection with even more “staff development”

  5. The times in the calendar when our lecturers *might* have a space for reflection shouldn’t necessarily be seen as an opportunity to throw loads of apps, tools and activities at them. 🙂

  6. You mean there are times that aren’t just for more tech?! No, more seriously, I agree, there do need to be those preserved spaces, and I think that applies for many professional services staff.

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