“That’s not the way it’s done!”
I have heard that statement many times in my life.
My Uncle Ben had been a farmer for many years before I went to live with him.
My parents dropped me off at the farm, then headed back to North Carolina.
It was made clear right from the start, that everyone who lived on the farm, worked on the farm.
I was 8 years old.
After the milking was finished the next morning, I was introduced to my first chore: clean out the gutter behind the cows after the milking was done and they were released to pasture.
I was given two tools: a flat-end shovel that was the same width as the gutter, and an old wheelbarrow.
Uncle Ben showed me (with one scoop) how the job was done.
Then the shovel was handed to me and Uncle Ben walked away.
I began working. After what seemed all day, the milking parlor was clean and ready for the evening milking.
I kinda thought that the rest of the day, until the evening milking, was for play.
But I soon learned that farm work begins early and ends late.
We lived on what we produced. All of our vegetables for the winter were grown in the short growing season of New England.
As soon as the corn sprouts were a few inches above ground, hilling began. Uncle Ben showed me how, and walked away. It was probably only an acre, but it looked like the rows disappeared into the horizon.
With the hoe I chopped the weeds and scraped soil up around the new growth.
There was only one way to hold the hoe, one way to move the hoe and one way to move the dirt.
Yup! Uncle Ben’s way!
Sometimes the Innovation is in my understanding of the work.
Many years ago a young preacher had the idea that radio could be an evangelistic tool.
People doubted. People scoffed. People predicted failure. People labeled radio as a Tool of the Devil.
But H.M.S. Richards pursued his dream.
No one had ever done this, so innovation was demanded.
With success, additional radio preachers came on the scene.
Today we have Adventist World Radio broadcasting to the people around the world.
Innovation is not just about creating a new way. It is about finding a better way.
My farm experiences hung on to my brain into my adult life. I wanted to have a garden. But I didn’t have 100 acres. I had barely one. I learned about Box Gardens and began farming.
I still farm using raised bed boxes. But they are different today than the ones I worked 30 years ago.
My life experiences have taught me that sometimes Repetition is the best way to learn. Early in my teaching career I used Flash Cards with my students.
Computer technology introduced a better way to do the Flash Card Learning.
Textbooks are an essential ingredient of teaching and learning. But a straight line through the text is not always the best way to get the information learned.
Curiosity opens the mind to instruction, much more so than turning a page in a text book.
Innovation by the teacher helps the teacher recognize student curiosity, maybe even arouse curiosity, and then use the textbook in a non-linear way to satisfy that awakened curiosity.
My personal learning style is:
But that style is not compatible with many students. Flexibility and Innovation enabled me to meet the needs of my students.
Still, I have learned that it is best to learn and do first, before attempting to devise an Innovative way.
This Formula For Innovation has worked well for me:
2) Do (Develop Skills in Doing)
3) Observe (Listen, Think, Reflect, Connect)
Sometimes the Best Way has already been found.
Sometimes, just adding Your personality to the work is all the Innovation that is needed.
Do the work you have been assigned to the best of your ability.
But keep working toward a better skill-set.