Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Chicken or the Egg?

We've all heard the riddle -- which came first, the chicken or the egg? It originates at least back to Aristotle, and was used as a philosophical paradox to evidence actuality and potentiality. Of course, Aristotle wound up saying neither came first, since the two were intertwined (as an aside, biologists now believe that the egg definitely came first).

In the field of education, which comes first -- the innovator or the innovation?

Let's take a look at the Harkness Table. Originating at Phillips Exeter Academy in 1930, this teaching innovation continues to be used at many schools:

Certainly, for this teacher, the innovation came first, but prompted her to become an innovator in using it:

Of course, there is also the position that being an innovator comes first; in other words, there is not a solution looking for a problem to solve. An Edutopia article suggests that teachers who are innovators tend to have some commonalities. Many of these teachers assess priorities, such as what all students must learn. They also are willing to take a risk, and more importantly, willing to fail. With those and other mindsets, teacher-innovators are then more ready to create and try a new methodology, process, or product to meet their students' needs.

Change leaders such as George Couros suggest that the two do blend together, albeit with a bit of innovator first:

So, I'm thinking Aristotle may have been right, with a twist -- it's both and neither. It's organic. 

Join the conversation....
What do you think? Do we need to cultivate innovators in order to get innovations?


  1. LOVE your thinking about all this...thanks so much for sharing in such a cool way!