“The person who says it cannot be done, should not interrupt the person doing it.” Chinese Proverb
Oh if it were that easy!
The reality of the work of someone with the “innovator’s mindset” is that the work is going to be questioned because it is something new and can often make those around them uncomfortable. Comments like “let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater” are often disguises of a fear of moving forward. If you really think about change, many people are comfortable with a known average, than the possibility of an unknown great. With that in mind, to be innovative, we will have to focus on moving forward even when there is risk of failure and being criticized involved.
Trying something new is always going to be up for a challenge, and I have watched so many struggle when that challenge becomes public. It is not about ignoring the naysayer (sometimes you should really listen to them), but about having the conviction to push forward and do something that you believe will make a difference. As I listened to the first episode of the podcast “Startup”, one of the things they talked about is the importance of passion and conviction to become successful.
If you don’t believe in your idea, why would anyone else?
One thing that I have learned from my experience as an educator is to always focus on the question “what is best for kids” when thinking about creating new ideas to further your work in schools. If you are trying something new in the context of learning, and this question is at the forefront of how you make your decisions, you are doing the right thing.
The other pushback you may face from trying something different is actually from the students. As stated earlier, many of our students are so used to “school” that something outside the lines of what they know terrifies them just as much as any adult. If school has become a “checklist” for our students (through doing rubrics, graduation requirements, etc.), learning that focuses on creation and powerful connections to learning, not only take more effort, but more time, which sometimes frustrates many students. Yet if we do not challenge our students in the learning they do in school, what are we preparing them for? What mindset will we actually create in our students? It is important, if not crucial, to really listen and act upon student voice, but it is also just as important to help our students become resilient and face adversity in the school environment.
Being a huge basketball fan, I remember watching Phil Jackson coach the Lakers, and when the other team had some success against them and most coaches would have called a timeout, Phil Jackson made them struggle to learn to work their way out of it; they could not be dependent upon someone coming in to save them (Phil Jackson has the most championships of any coach in NBA history). Do we create spaces for our own students that pushes them out of their comfort zone and they have to work themselves out of it, or do we provide the solutions for them? It is important to understand when to help a student back up, but it is also important to help them sometimes figure it out on their own.
Resilience is not only needed to be developed as an “innovator”, but just as a human. Life is full of ups and downs, but how you recover and move forward is not just important to how we learn, but how we live.