Category Archives: barriers to innovation

The Policies In Your Head

Working with educators and trying to help challenge the traditional notion of schooling, many of them will come to me privately and say, “I would love to do some of this stuff, but our policies won’t allow us.”  When I talk to their principals though and ask them about those same policies, they will tell you that they don’t exist.

Sometimes we create something in our head as a barrier, or we hold onto something from years previously.

At a session with a group of teachers in Winnipeg that I am working with, one of the comments was that they were reluctant to go on Twitter because “the union wouldn’t allow it”.  Serendipitously over lunch, the following tweet was sent by the same union:

The barrier was either in their own mind, or no longer existed.

I know people will always say, “Ask for forgiveness instead of permission”, but I have never been in that mindset. I like not getting into trouble.  One thing that I would always say to my teachers as a principal is that “I cannot solve problems that I don’t know exist.”

Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the pursuit of doing what is best for kids. Otherwise, the thing that might be holding you back is your own thinking, and nothing else.

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How We Look at the World

Speaking to one group of educators, a student teacher in the room just created a new Twitter account and shared her enthusiasm for trying something new.  I asked her what the message was regarding social media in her university. Her response was, “They tell us to not do anything bad on it so that we won’t lose a job.”

My response?

“Why don’t they tell you to share amazing things so that you can get a job?”

This picture really pushed my thinking on how important it is to understand how we look at things.


There are so many things that this picture sparks in me, but here is one of the things that came to mind.

What do many adults see with this device? Distraction.

What do these kids see? Opportunity.

I know it is not as simple as that, but the point is, the way we look at things has a major influence on how we act moving forward.