With so many resources around, I have heard many educator say that there is “no need to reinvent the wheel”. I’ve heard this said across a number of contexts, and by numerous people. And perhaps because we are now well into term three, the coldest and darkest of the New Zealand school terms, I’m hearing this more. Perhaps term three is when we are most reminded that we have to manage our teaching workload more carefully, and hence, a good resource that saves some preparation time feels likes a win. By now we also know that there is plenty of research that shows that we need sleep for more effective problem solving and even creativity. So perhaps, our need not to reinvent the wheel, stems from the recognition that we are tired and don’t necessarily have the mental energy to do so. It is a fairly well researched fact that sleep deprivation affects our ability to solve problems.
Recently, I also blogged about how busy we are as teachers. Between reports, planning, meetings, parent demands, marking, professional learning and leadership responsibilities, there never seems to be enough time. It makes sense then, that we adopt some time saver tips such as our magpie approach. It’s a time saver when we do not reinvent the wheel!
“No need to reinvent the wheel” is making me increasingly and incredibly uncomfortable. If we do not reinvent the wheel, doesn’t that put us at risk of becoming obsolete as a profession? Or for privatisation to capitalise on our lack of reinvention in the public school system? But more importantly, does that mean we are frequently accepting the outdated, old fashioned, ineffective, unproductive wooden spoke wheels in education?
Watson the super computer is diagnosing lung cancer better than experienced doctors, Tesla can send push updates to your car to improve it remotely, my smartphone has technology that would have cost $5 trillion dollars in 1984, and an artificially intelligent teaching assistant helped students online for an entire semester and nobody noticed. I have thought about it a little more, I’ve actually decided that we do not need to reinvent the wheel. It’s time we start building the education equivalents of hovercrafts.
I’ve adopted a new lens to use in my leadership and my everyday practice. This means rather than assuming that I do not need to reinvent the wheel, I should instead evaluate whether a wheel is still appropriate. Perhaps I am in the territory of hovercrafts, self-driving cars and the hyperloop. I for one, will definitely no longer accept not reinventing the wheel.