The governments attempts to innovate in education have led to a series of high-profile policies which are quietly dropped later. Flagship initiatives such as education action zones and beacon schools promised to identify good practice, but failed to transfer the lessons learned within the education system.
The problem is that information only flows vertically within the education system, from government department to school. But the school system will only be transformed as the government wants when knowledge is shared between schools and teachers.
In this important pamphlet, David Hargreaves argues that government needs a strategy to enable knowledge transfer laterally within the education system. Instead of continuing to act as the hub through which all new policies are routed, the education department must enable innovation networks to develop.
Drawing on his knowledge of network theory and emergence, Hargreaves explains how schools can be linked together so that small-scale innovations in teaching practice catch on quickly and easily.
Hargreaves likens this approach to the peer-to-peer networks that have developed on the internet, which allow music enthusiasts to share sound files. Innovation networks within education would allow teachers to share good practice in a similar way.
Transformation requires schools to be willing to give away their innovations for free, in the hope of some return but with no guarantee. A paramount value is freedom to create, to appropriate, and to redistribute knowledge. We need to engineer an educational epidemic which would truly qualify as a transformation.