No Longer Accepting the “Status Quo” on Using the Term “Status Quo”

One of the things that I always try to be mindful of is the words we use in education and what they mean.

Buzzwords (or “buzz” terms) become that way because we often say them without clearly articulating what they mean.

For example, in writing “The Innovator’s Mindset,” one of my goals was to clearly define “innovation” in the book and share the following:



Innovation is a common term in many educational circles today and has been used a number of times in this book already. But what does it actually mean—especially in the terms of education? For the purpose of this book, I’m defining innovation as a way of thinking that creates something new and better.

Innovation can come from either “invention” (something totally new) or “iteration” (a change of something that already exists), but if it does not meet the idea of “new and better,” it is not innovative. That means that change for the sake of change is never good enough. Neither is using innovation as a buzzword, as many organizations do, to appear current or relevant.

Note, too, that I said innovation is a way of thinking. It is a way of considering concepts, processes, and potential outcomes; it is not a thing, task, or even technology.”



But how is the word “innovation” often used? As a replacement for the word “technology.”

Don’t believe me?

If you have a person who is the lead for “innovation,” what were they doing prior? From my experience, it is typically people who had a prior focus on technology and rarely someone who had a focus specifically on curriculum. It is not always 100% true, but often enough, the word “innovation” is seen as a trendy update on educational technology.

Can technology be a part of innovation? Absolutely. 

But it shouldn’t be used as a synonym.

One of the terms I have been thinking about lately is “status quo” and how it is used. I have used it before, but I had never looked up the definition of it, and if you asked me to define it, I am not sure I would have.  So, I looked it up, and here is what I found:



Status quo is Latin for “existing state.” When we talk about the status quo, however, we often mean it in a slightly bad way. When people want to maintain the status quo, they are often resistant to progress.



Have I used it properly in a sentence before? Yes.

Could I have answered it correctly in a spelling bee? Also, yes.


Happy Spelling Bee GIF by South Asian Spelling Bee


So technically, I couldn’t define it, but I did loosely have an understanding of what it meant.

So what’s the issue?

I often used the term to push (maybe even guilt) into thinking about changing their ways in education because that was something I was passionate about at the time. I still am, although I am trying to retire that term and find better ways to help others.

But I was totally fine with the status quo in many other areas of my life.

While challenging others to change their ways and progress on what I had deemed vital for them, my health was deteriorating, both physically and mentally. So were other aspects of my life.

I was asking for others to change in areas I thought were essential while moving backward in other areas of my life. 

Do I think that we can get better in education? Of course.

But I think that the best way to help people move forward is not through our suggestions (or unintended guilt trips) but through our example. Even posting about how I used to use this term in a way that may have caused more problems than solutions, I hope others will think about this term and others in the same way.

When I post on social media, I do my best to focus less on “you should” and more on “I did” or “I am trying.”

People are more likely to take steps forward on a path if they see footprints from others on the ground.



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