Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Creating Parallel Systems in Schools

I wanted to pass along the following excerpt offered by Saul Kaplan:

Here’s how the idea works.  Instead of going to war to transform an entrenched operating model, create real world sandboxes right next door in which a new generation of transformative operating models can be explored.  The imperative is to do R&D for new business models and systems the way organizations do R&D for new products and technologies today.   The trick is to explore and test new models while at the same time continuing to pedal the bicycle of the current model.  This requires establishing adjacent innovation platforms with the freedom to explore new ways to create and deliver value, especially approaches that are disruptive to the current model.  Adjacent innovation platforms must have the freedom to experiment with different rules and financial models.  Connected adjacencies require senior leadership sponsorship, support, and protection or they will fail. They must be free to recombine and connect capabilities in new ways unconstrained by the existing organization.  Those working in the adjacencies must be empowered to borrow and flexibly deploy capabilities and technologies from inside and outside the organization in novel ways. - Innovate Through Connected Adjacencies

Simply, where do these, as Kaplan frames it, "innovation sandboxes" exist in schools?  In education parallel systems seem to be a rarity.  There are isolated examples of prototypes systems.  At the school where I work we have one such prototype in place with the Classics Academy.  However, it has been a struggle to increase the size of the program as students feel an overwhelming pressure to enroll in more "traditional" courses. 

Kaplan's idea of connected adjacencies deserves consideration.  Beyond the inherent faults in promoting a one size fits all paradigm, how else do you challenge current structures/practices unless there is a competing model to draw comparisons against?  An important element of the Classics Academy and other similar curricular initiatives is that an alternative is being forged.  The status quo is being challenged.  Organically, students, educators and parents are compelled to observe, analyze and reflect upon what is best for kids and a community.  Without supporting prototypes, we limit our chances to improve the quality of education offered in our schools.