I just did a cursory search on the web and within the edublogs I troll for the above phrase. Kendall Crolius, one of the Friday night panelists at EduCon 2.1 dropped that expression on all of us in the audience in reference to how to innovate. I can’t stand how cool it sounds, so I named this post after it.
Here was the context in which it was uttered: the panel was asked what the purpose of school is, and in their various answers, the responses between them and the interplay with the audience, someone asked if innovation and change were possible within the current model of schooling in America. Crolius responded with a reference to Clayton Christensen’s work via Disrupting Class; Christensen states that the companies that are serious about innovation and change that focus on disruptive innovation especially do so by creating rogue “mini-companies” whose sole responsibility it is to innovate, and in essence “kill the mothership” by changing market dynamics. Think of telecom companies in the early 1990’s. Those companies that were able to devote time, resources and cutting-edge thinking to developing cellular technologies were ready when the use of these devices became as easy or easier than traditional telephony.
We have been squawking about our pockets of innovation within our buildings, or within certain geographic areas around the world as problematic. After hearing this take on it, I think we are underestimating what we have. While threats to the monolithic structure of public education are nowhere on the horizon as we speak, I can see a future where students whose teachers expose them to social networking tools and leverage them in a way that allows them to take charge of their own learning do not stand for rows, chairs, and textbook learning as the sole basis for their learning. They won’t stand for the idea that the person in the room with them holding the teaching certificate is the last word on any topic.
These pockets we talk about, these teachers who are pushing against drill-and-kill test prep and standardized curriculum, are our rogues. Where on this continuum are your pockets that you work with, or where do you think you fit? Listening to the idea as espoused by Crolius on the panel truly made me feel like I lead two lives: I support these pockets with energy and by removing obstacles, yet work very hard to maintain somewhat of a status quo with the majority of the staff I work with. Yes, we are pushing upward and advancing their craft through various professional development and discourse (as indicated by the linear usage lines above) but it’s the innovators that are advancing at the exponential rate. In the end, how I support them and push that curve above the “most demanding use” line will determine how I view my success.