For Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, innovation seems to mean grabbing the lessons from schools with records of high performance and grafting them on to problem schools. Finding “what works,” adopting it, spreading it around. Why not call that what it is: replication?
But what works in one place may not work everywhere, Johnson writes. Schools and teachers need the freedom to try new things that might not work out as planned. True innovation won’t be “evidence-based.” And it won’t be easy.
(Harvard Professor Clayton) Christensen’s career rests on his distinction between “sustaining” innovation — the constant improvements that successful enterprises make in their products or services — and “disruptive” innovation in which a new and different product or business model bursts through from a competitor the established firm cannot emulate.
This highlights a critical problem with ‘innovation’. These disruptive innovations, the truly new models, are never high-quality at first. They appeal just to people not being served well by the mainstream offerings.
“Most people aren’t ready for radical change,” Johnson writes.
We need some true innovators, but we also need replicators who will build on successful school models.