Innovation and The Willing Suspension of Disbelief

Let’s imagine, and why not, that you have an idea for some sort of innovation in teaching, something you think you might want to try, something you’re convinced will contribute to really meaningful learning.  It’s exciting.  It’s energizing.  You think about it night and day.  You research it.  You turn the idea over in your mind, enthralled by every facet.  You know, in your heart or in your soul or in the core of your being, as much as one can know anything, that it is a good idea.  It feels warm, like a bellyful of soup on a cold day.  Maybe you feel a bit like Joan of Arc.

Is this faith?  Perhaps.  But within the context of a “system” – a system of education, an institution, a set of constraints (or resource limitations, naysayers, nonbelievers, obstructionists, standardized tests, accrediting organizations, whatever) – it seems to me that innovation requires a willing (perhaps willful) suspension of disbelief.  Is it even possible?  Anything is possible.  Is it likely to work?  The sun seems to rise and fall regularly.  Does it scale?  Does an atom scale? Is it the right thing to do?  I know that it is, with all of my [insert your ____________ here].  I don’t even know where to begin.  Always be prototyping.  You will never get it 100% the first time, but you will always learn something from your success or failure.

Some days you’re the stake, others the fire.

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