“Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of the imagination.” – John Dewey
** Wikipedia: “Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments, and society. Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a better and, as a result, novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself. Innovation differs from improvement in that innovation refers to the notion of doing something different (Lat. innovare: “to change”) rather than doing the same thing better.”
Innovation and education seem to be two topics that would fit well with one another. The more you learn, the more you discover new and interesting information, the more education improves. I would be guilty of excessive optimism, however, if I failed to consider the reality in education today.
The education of the present century is largely unchanged from the past century, including the exceptions where technology has been embraced wholeheartedly. Largely, change in education simply has not occurred. For example, if someone educated in 1912 were magically brought forward in time to a 21st century classroom of today (anywhere on the globe), they would find themselves in a familiar environment.
Classrooms would still be organised with students sitting one behind the other (to provide an excellent view of the back of the head of the student in front of you).
Bells would ring at intervals throughout the day, signalling a reward for the students (a chance to change classrooms, to play, to have lunch, to go home, etc).
Students learning would be organized by a curriculum of all too familiar subjects, distinctly separated from one another. There would be classes of reading, math, science, music, physical education, history and language, of course.
They would be separated from the other students by age (year of production), little kids with little kids, big kids with big kids, elementary with elementary, high school with high school. This is the model of assembly-line production adapted to schools, especially popular during the 1950′s for efficiency. Let’s take a look at one such school on the popular TV series of the time, “Leave it to Beaver”:
There would be tests, for which rote memorization would serve them well. (No one would care that the students had forgotten everything a week later).
Each year they would advance exactly one year, regardless of whether they had fully mastered the contents of the current year. Passing tests with an acceptable minimum score would be sufficient.
There would be the rites of passage: graduation from kindergarden, first-day of school, winter vacation, summer vacation, sports, graduation from elementary, graduation from high school.
Indeed, someone coming from the past century would have little trouble adjusting to the environment of the 21st century school…
What is needed? What can we do?
My answer: Innovation for excellence, Innovation, consistently and continuously. For me, it’s that simple. Why do I say, so simply, innovation?
Firstly, however, we need to define the term, “innovation“. I for one am a simple man, and a simple definition will suffice for me. Therefore, I choose to define innovation as, “curiosity“. Without curiosity there can be no innovation. What do I mean?
Take the following example: You travel to the United States from England, in an old-fashioned sailboat. Of course, you make the return trip after having tired of the New World. You do this often, at various times in the year, in all seasons, in all kinds of weather, always travelling the same route, in the same boat.
Each time you notice one thing in particular. The trip to the United States takes more time than the return trip, always, regardless of the season, regardless of the time of year, regardless of the weather.
Are you curious for an explanation?
I know the answer, and I challenge you to use your curiosity to find out the answer to the question: Why does it take longer to travel from England to the USA than from the USA to England, by sailboat, when all conditions are equal (boat, time of year, weather, season, etc.?
Innovation requires curiosity.
If you simply accept the world as it is, there is no need to innovate. This could likely explain why our schools, all over the world, still have a remarkable resemblance to the schools of the past century.
Don’t get me wrong, don’t misinterpret my message.
There are notable exceptions of schools where a visitor from the past century would become dizzy by the technological changes, the interdisciplinarity, the approach to learning, the fundamental understanding of what it means to be educated in the 21st century as opposed to the past century, etc. finding little resembling the schools of the past century.
One such place is the international schools of the International Baccalaureate® (IB). The International Baccalaureate® (IB) offers high quality programmes of international education to a worldwide community of schools. There are more than 900,000 IB students in over 140 countries.
The International Baccalaureate schools are the best schools in the world, consistently, year after year. That’s not my opinion, that’s a fact supported by over forty years of outstanding, exemplary learning results.
What explains the success of the International Baccalaureate® (IB) program?
Again, being a simple man who likes simple answers, I’ll answer with one word: Innovation. As I said before, innovation entails curiosity. Yet as you must be aware of, curiosity is only the starting point.
Noticing what works versus what doesn’t work is good. Being observant, listening, experimenting, constantly searching for improvement is implied behaviour in a school system that is the world’s best.
Yet to be the best, there must be more, something tangible, something no other school system in the world has. There must be something special, something uniquely unique…
For the International Baccalaureate® (IB), that special ingredient which no other school system has, is again, in one word, “scale“. What I mean by scale is the ability to be an excellent school system, not only on a local, regional or national scale, but on an international scale – globally.
Again, let me repeat, The International Baccalaureate® (IB) offers high quality programmes of international education to a worldwide community of schools. There are more than 900,000 IB students in over 140 countries.
Now, we know the Finland school system is good, in Finland, but will it work in Chile? No, because Finland isn’t Chile.
We also know the Singapore school system is good in Singapore, but will it work in South Africa? No, because Singapore isn’t South Africa.
We know the Hong Kong school system is good in Hong Kong, but will it work in France? No, because Hong Kong isn’t France.
The International Baccalaureate® (IB) program, on the other hand, works in all countries around the globe. In Finland and in Chile, in Singapore and in South Africa, in Hong Kong and in France.
That’s what I mean by “scale“.
That’s also why I emphasize innovation.
The International Baccalaureate® (IB) is constantly at the forefront of innovation in education. To have a world-class education system, therefore, you have two options.
Option 1: In your country, you can adopt the system in Finland, or in Singapore, or in Hong Kong.
Option 2: In your country, you can adopt the system used by the global leader in education of the past forty years, one of consistent innovation in education, the International Baccalaureate® (IB)…
In my books, “Connectivism and Connected Knowledge”, and “The International Baccalaureate” I give insights into not only why innovation in education is important, but also what innovation in education looks like for me, personally.
It is one thing to talk the talk, another entirely to “walk the talk”, that is to say, to apply the principles of innovation in education to one’s own approach to being a 21st century educator…
Connectivism & Connected Knowledge tells the story of my personal journey from isolation to becoming globally connected to sources of knowledge and expertise, from some of the most brilliant people in my field, education…
It is a personal journey that begins with a proposition: self-improvement that also benefits others.
I go back in time to share this journey with you, certain that it will also benefit you personally, and the members of your personal and professional learning network also.
This book, The Spelling Bee for EFL Teachers, is for teachers of English Language Learners, ESL, EFL, & ELT. It is dedicated to the students in my EFL class, past, present, and future. I sincerely hope something within these pages will resonate within them and awaken the aspiration to become acquainted with words.
Words have power to do things.
Consequently, words are important in our lives, and we learn their spelling, their pronunciation, their definition, their part of speech, their collocations, their use in a sentence, their etymology, and above all, their friendship…
SIMCE Ingles 2010: The development of the national English test in Chile coincides with my story, which is woven autobiographically into the larger story, a test which apparently resulted in only 11% of students able to achieve a passing score. This book will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will reveal secrets to you that you thought you already knew about tests, test-making, and test-reporting. More importantly, you leave the reading of this book with a renewed sense of confidence in who you are, and what you do…
Paperback: 82 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (March 26, 2012)
I am a teacher, and I teach in Chile. This year a new Teacher Career Law, defining the teaching profession in terms of increased prestige, attracting more applicants from higher performing students, an obligatory enabling exam, higher salaries, fewer hours teaching in the classroom, and higher responsibilities wil be passed, hopefully. This book totally supports the idea that a good law is needed, and now is the time to pass one, even if that law is not yet perfect. We Teachers have such a long way to go, and this is clearly a tremendous step in the right direction. To celebrate, all of the funds received for the sale of this book will go to support the EdCamp Santiago free conference for teachers in Chile. Thank you, in advance, for buying this book. May God Bless You…
Soy el más afortunado de todos quienes trabajan. A un médico se le permite traer una vida en un momento mágico. A mí se me permite que esa vida renazca día a a día con nuevas preguntas, ideas y amistades. Un arquitecto sabe que si construye con cuidado, su estructura puede permanecer por siglos. Un maestro sabe que si construye con amor y verdad, lo que construya durará para siempre.
Paperback: 170 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (July 3, 2012)
This book contains all you need to know to successfully coach a debate team. You may need to convince students that debate is a good idea, though. Here are six reasons:
1. Debating ability is a valuable skill.
2. Debate utilizes useful English.
3. It is a unique way to teach grammar.
4. It develops critical thinking skills.
5. It introduces global issues.
6. It develops research skills.
A more powerful reason to coach a debate team is given to us by Dr. Martin Luther King: ““Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace… If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation…” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – 1964 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech
The global search for high-quality education, embedded in high-performing education systems, has taken on mythical proportions, almost resembling the alchemists’ quest to turn common metals into gold.
It is my hope that the present day search for global education, equitable and providing equality of opportunity for all, shall not cease until the “gold” we seek, has been found.
I therefore dedicate this book to all the educators, researchers, parents and students the world over, who strive to achieve this elusive goal,high-quality education for all the citizens of the world.
In this endeavour, it is my belief that the International Baccalaureate merits a closer look, based on their more than 40 year history of delivering consistently excellent results.
I add that all of the reflections and views in this book are mine alone, unless otherwise noted, and can not be attributed to my employer or any other organization I am affiliated with, past or present. For any errors or oversights, I bear the complete responsibility.
Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He is the Coordinator of the English Department at Colegio Internacional SEK in Santiago, Chile.Thomas was recently selected for membership in the Comunidad de Innovación Escolar of the Foundation Telefónica and Foundation Educación 2020.
He is the Co-Founder and Co-Organiser of EdCamp Santiago, free, participant-driven, democratic, conversation based professional development for teachers, by teachers.
Thomas is also an ex member (2010-2011) of the Advisory Board for the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL), where he currently serves as a reviewer and as the HETL Ambassador for Chile.
Thomas enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. Thus far, he has written the following genres: romance, historical fiction, autobiographical, sports history/biography, and English Language Teaching. He has published a total of forty four (44) books overall.
The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family, his wife Gabriela, and his son, Thomas Jerome Baker, Jr.
** “Education is not a preparation for life; Education is life itself.” – John Dewey