Why Innovation is Important in Education

Have you seen the viral video of the man on the airplane, working with all of his might to fit his bag in the overhead compartment? After 45 seconds of trying, a flight attendant comes to help. She twists the bag and it slips into the compartment. At the very end, you can see the the onlookers laughing at the man, shaking their heads at his inability to see the obvious.


We can find the video funny, but I’d like to suggest that we have all been the man in this video. We have an idea of how it is supposed to work. We try, and to our confusion, it doesn’t happen. So what do we do? We try again, and again, and maybe again. Perhaps we convince ourselves that grit, perseverance, and persistence will win the day. With that personal pep talk, we pick up the bag once more and try the exact same way, but to no avail.

Then someone comes to us and suggests another way. Maybe we are open to taking their advice? Or, maybe we reject it. Sometimes on a matter of principle, we persist with the method, protecting it like our only child.

“This is now how it is supposed to work.”

“This is the right way to do it.”

“It has worked for me this way before.”

“I’ve tried everything and it just doesn’t fit.”

This is why we need innovation in education. Innovation is not just a buzz word. It isn’t just about embracing new and trendy ideas. It is about embracing the breadth of possibilities, acknowledging that there might be a better way, being open to new ways of embodying our values and embracing our mission.

We’ve had enough of trying to stuff students in our educational compartments. We blame the students, the compartment, the people around us, or even ourselves when it doesn’t work out as we desired or expected. Maybe innovation is really about having the openness and humility to consider something new. And maybe it is sometimes as simple and subtle as twisting the idea on its side.