I just started reading Steven Johnson’s newest book, Where Good Ideas Come From.
Primarily designed to study the process by which innovation and creativity occur—in individuals, in cities, in nature—Johnson’s book makes the argument that one of the most important factors for the success or failure of new thinking is ready access to a stream of adjacent ideas.
That carries all kinds of implications for education, doesn’t it? I mean, don’t we inherently “build walls” around teachers and students when we allow rigid pacing guides developed by ‘experts’ working beyond our classrooms to shape the work we’re doing in our classrooms?
Don’t we “build walls” when we block social networking services from schools, making it difficult for teachers to network with anyone outside of their hallways? Don’t we “build walls” when teacher planning periods are consumed by clerical tasks like taking attendance, entering grades or answering email?
Don’t we “build walls” when group work is pushed aside in favor of test preparation? Don’t we “build walls” when we force students into predetermined, inflexible grade levels regardless of what they know and can do?