The future of a concept: Sustaining innovation in education

Year: 2006

Author: Smith, Craig

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Innovation is a prominent feature of current governmental discourse, and in whose name large amounts of public money is spent. Innovation in this context is valued because of its perceived potential to do things in new or better ways that creates desirable outcomes. In recent years, innovation in an educational context, has been identified among policy-makers as one of the key mechanisms by which significant and effective change is meant to be introduced and sustained. Yet based on research conducted over the last three years by the author and others, innovation’s potential to transform schooling in particular, is not being realised. The key issue impeding innovation’s potential in transforming educational practices lies in the basic but fundamental problem that the dominate ways of conceptualising innovation are largely inadequate. They neither accurately describe or capture the experience of innovative practices on the ground. Nor do they offer an adequate framework in which innovation as a process could be better managed. What is needed is a more rigorous and useful understanding of innovation that can pragmatically used by schools and others attempting to undertake innovation. Such an understanding would also assist policymakers in setting policy frameworks that actually encouraged and sustained innovative practices in education. This paper is a first step toward developing such a concept.