Chapter 5: Error of Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From told story after story of how some of our greatest inventions and discoveries were a direct result of a mistake (e.g. vulcanized rubber, penicillin). While I understand that we, especially in the field of education, are trying our hardest to STOP making and repeating mistakes that negatively impact learning, I also think it’s a mistake to put teachers into such a sterile, lock-step environment that there is no room for innovation. Two quotes from this chapter get at the heart, I think, of the message:
“Innovative environments thrive on useful mistakes, and suffer when the demands of quality control overwhelm them.” (Location 1689)
“Big organizations like to follow perfectionist regimes like Six Sigma and Total Quality Management, entire systems devoted to eliminating error from the conference room or the assembly line, but it’s no accident that one of the mantras of the Web startup world is fail faster.” (Location 1690) (Italics and bold are my own.)
My questions for reflection:
- How do we incorporate unprecedented access to data, research, and information to improve education while still allowing dedicated, connected, passionate teachers the flexibility to discover what works for their students?
- How do we allow educational leaders the freedom to “fail faster” in safe, but informative and reflective environments so that they can eventually arrive at the right solutions?