Every “Best Practice” in Education Was Once an Innovation

Adam Grant recently tweeted this article, focusing on the importance of theory and delving into the unknown for science. It is a fascinating read, and the end quote stuck out to me:



Some of the most interesting scientific work gets done when scientists develop bizarre theories in the face of something new or unexplained. Madcap ideas must find a way of relating to the world – but demanding falsifiability or observability, without any sort of subtlety, will hold science back. It’s impossible to develop successful new theories under such rigid restrictions.



In Grant’s original tweet regarding the article (read the replies; there is some interesting back and forth), he states:



Demanding proof stalls creativity. New ideas need room to breathe, and a good imagination will always be ahead of the best evidence.



So what does this mean for education?

When I read this, I first thought of people always demanding that everything done in classrooms in schools has to be “best practice”.  Ultimately, that means nothing new can come into education because if it is unproven, then it can’t be best practice. Here’s the thing, though…

Everything we have ever deemed as “best practice” in education was once an innovation.

Someone saw things weren’t working the way they should, and they did something better.  I have shared what I believe this process continuously looks like in education.



But these ideas did not come out of thin air. People have based it on their own experience, understanding the students in front of them while looking at the future in front of them.  There is a balance of learning from what we know and how things could get better.  If we only did what we know, where does “learning” come into the fray?

Not every new idea works.

But not every “best practice” works either for every child.

The focus is not holding onto the past or being solely focused on the future. The focus is on learners and creating better schools and classrooms.

To do that, we will have to focus on continuous growth, not only what we know.

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