The Ethics of Innovation & Reform in Education

This post was originally posted on Figuring It Out by J. Bevacqua 

I recently read an article about the innovative and creative exploits of Google.

The article attributed many of Google’s most innovative and successful projects to the idea of “moonshot thinking” whereby Google takes on “highly experimental projects that will become industry changing success stories or total failures

Such thinking has been attributed to projects such as Google GlassesProject Loon , self driving cars and more recently Calico – a health company that “will focus on health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases”

The creative and innovative energy around these initiatives viagra no prescription excites me. I want to create that same energy in schools – for both students and teachers.

As a teacher/administrator I want to inspire students to strive for “moonshot thinking” in their own lives.  After all, which educator wouldn’t?

Yet, I’m left wondering…..

Is unfettered, radical innovation and reform in education morally ethical?  Is Google “totally failing” at a project the same as a school reform initiative “totally failing”?   Google losing a couple hundred million dollars (out of a couple billion dollars) is not the same as a school potentially “losing” no prescription viagra cheapest viagra even one student.   Reform in education is challenging. It involves real people in their most formative and vulnerable years.

I can’t help but wonder about the effect on failed reform initiatives for generations of students – from the US polices of “No Child Left Behind” to turning schools into educational call centres

As educators, perhaps, before we look to the corporate world as exemplars, we need to think about who we are serving and the consequences of our actions.

I offer the following suggestions:

1. Ask yourself “why” before you moving forward. What are your school’s values? Are your actions in alignment with these values?

2. What will be the possible impacts of your action? Predicting and applying systems thinking to this process is critical. Like Peter Senge writes: “today’s problems are a consequence of yesterday’s solutions”

3. What does the current research reveal? Research is important, but know the limiting aspects of your research as well..

5. Is this work creating the most good with the least possible negatives (there is always going to be potential “risk”)

6. Ask yourself: Would you want your own child to participate in this “innovative program?”

I like the idea of “moonshot thinking”. The world has changed. Education needs to change. But education is not the same as Google. The stakes are much higher in education.

Still figuring it out….


  1. I think you raise some important cautionary thoughts regarding innovation in schools. I tend to be someone who wants to move forward with change and innovation in the school settings in which I have worked. However, your points are well taken. Good food for thought!


    November 17, 2013

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