How to square these different views on innovation in education? Maybe the core of the dispute is not so much about the actual amount of change and innovation in education, but about the process - how change and innovation happen. A lot of well-intentioned innovations fail not because of a lack of quality or because their intended direction of change is wrong, but because of how they have been implemented. Teachers will be able to give you rich accounts of top-down innovations, implemented without much consultation, without taking into account the experiences and knowledge base at the point of delivery of education. Lack of trust, lack of ownership, a poor evidence base, and lack of empowerment of the key actors – these seem to be the main ingredients of the recipe for failure in changing education.
To better understand this, we need to know more about how the governance of education systems has changed. Many attempts to bring about innovative change in education do not yet seem to be based on what we already know about how education systems are governed. Decentralisation, greater complexity, multiplication of stakeholders, broader dispersion of knowledge and expertise, more levels of decision-making all make education systems more difficult to steer and to change. At least that’s the impression one gets when looking at the system from the outside. Indeed, the complexity and the multilevel nature of decision-making in education systems make top-down reform much more difficult to achieve. But complexity, in itself, does not necessarily jeopardise change through innovation.
OECD educationtoday: How can education systems embrace innovation?