Here is an excellent presentation by Ben Levin.

Improvement, Not Innovation, is the Key to Greater Equity from CEA ACE on Vimeo.

Here’s a great quote from his presentation. "How many of you have been involved in a pilot project? Okay almost all of us… How many of those pilot projects are still in operation? Virtually none of them…" In other words, schools have been spending too much time on innovation and not enough time implementing strategies which are known to work.

His observation that we have cycled through many times in education in innovation. Here’s a picture of what I think he means.

According to Ben Levin, we should "take what we know to be effective practices and ensure that these practices are used in every classroom…We could go into school after school after school and look for the practices we know that work, and not see them being used." I’m not sure that I want every classroom be identical, but maybe he is right, there should be more similarity. If something is known to work, and it works in every context it is used, then it should be used in every context, in every classroom.

I like what he has to say, but I’m going to push back a little. Obviously not every single new school program has died, maybe only most of them. However some of them have thrived and expanded and turned into things schools just do. We need a balance between what we know works, and a small number of educators pushing at the boundaries of what we know.

To do this, we need to become better at sharing, and we need to break down the barriers we place between schools. We need to find ways to allow educators to move more freely between schools and thus share their expertise. You can talk all you want about a good practice in education, but these things are complicated, and unless I see it in action, I’m not likely to implement it. We need more sharing of what we already know.