For schools that aim to innovate and improve, the people who work in such schools will have to grow comfortable with internal opposition. Schools live at an interesting and paradoxical intersection. All at once, schools tend to be excellent at building conformity, while functioning in such a way that breeds sub-system metamorphosis.
Much of the structure of traditional school exists to create conformity. Bells, dress codes, grading systems, faculty induction, etc. – they function to establish standardization and uniformity. However, most schools continue to practice a brand of professional development that breeds “rebels.” We send faculty to conferences, and the faculty return with great excitement to try something new and relatively non-conventional. Just yesterday, I attended an SAIS (Southern Association of Independent Schools) event on flipping the classroom. A few teachers from a smattering of schools attended, and they will return to their hives to disrupt the norm.
How might schools better create honey-production systems for these worker bees that return to the hive with new pollen? How might we grow more accepting and even promoting of internal opposition?
A recent article on Fast Company’s Co-Design, “How To Nurture Your Company’s Rebels, And Unlock Their Innovative Might” by Tim Leberecht, offers great insights in this regard.
Similarly, I would argue, the contrarians and rebels, the people on the fringes of organizations who question and deviate from the status quo, which so often leads to inertia and inflexibility, are huge assets for any organization. Those who disagree with the present often see the future more clearly.
How are you nurturing the contrarians and rebels? How are you tapping into the future seers within your organization? Are you feeding their curiosity and factoring in their ideas to your pedagogical master plan, or are you intentionally or unintentionally squashing their experimental energy and enthusiasm?