Emergency vs. Urgency (or why no one innovates during a fire)

There's a lot to be said about urgency.  If you’ve stepped into most schools in low-income areas, you immediately recognize it’s going to take some urgent and proactive work to create better outcomes for students.

But urgency is oftentimes conflated with emergency, conditioning us to react to what we see and feel.  If you notice, very few people innovate during a fire.  They just want to get themselves and everyone else out safely.

That’s why it distresses me the course many schools take.  To focus on making industrial schools better is to react to the emergency, which doesn’t leave much room for growth.  If we anchor ourselves to the "problem", we overlook the structural problems (poverty) and learning problems (creation and innovation).  If we spent the next 20 years trying to catch our kids up to their wealthier peers, we're still 40 years behind.  Many students in wealthy schools are already given the permission, access and skills to do creative and authentic work, if not at school than at home or on their own. 

To further the emergency metaphor, the problem is that most people don’t want to escape from a burning building better.  You don’t get points for creativity during an emergency.

We can take urgent action to solve these problems.  We’ve focused on access to the internet and making/tinkering for that very reason. It’s critical because most innovative thinking occurs during “casual” time and “play” time (props to @johntspencer for this convo).  You can’t legislate innovation.  You can’t force innovation.   You can only create the conditions (time, space, skills and resources) and steward innovation.

Let’s take urgent action #stl

Disruption Department