Foreword by: Yasmin B. Kafai
Publication Date: May 13, 2022
There is no shortage of innovations on offer for schools. Hardly a week passes without someone marching out the latest device, app, service, curricular add-on, or instructional technique that, we are told, is sure to cure the perennial woes of systemic education. This book is an investigation of this enchantment with “innovation” and its implications for not only everyday teaching and learning, but also the future of public education. Based on a study of The Innovation School—a public high school organized around makerspaces, design thinking, and personalized technology—the author challenges conventional wisdom about how educational transformation unfolds and argues that the popular understanding of innovation exacerbates inequality and undermines teacher and student autonomy. Building the Innovation School demonstrates how attending to the infrastructures of innovation leads to educational change that is driven by the interests and values of educators. Repair rather than disruption is the focus—a commitment to schools that allow all students to flourish.
T. Philip Nichols is an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Baylor University. He received the 2022 Literacy Research Association (LRA) Early Career Achievement Award.
“ Building the Innovation School: Infrastructures for Equity in Today's Classrooms is an especially valued and unreservedly recommended addition to school district, college, and university library Experimental Education Methods & Theories collections.”
—Midwest Book Review
“In Building the Innovation School, Nichols provides a much-needed, nuanced account of what happens when and how innovation lands in a school, how it gets picked up, what gets renegotiated, and what emerges unexpectedly. His proposal builds on careful observations collected over multiple years and provides detailed insights into how the process of innovation unfolds from the first time teachers and administrators meet in the school district to lay the foundation for the school, to later years when teachers and students deal with revisiting and developing assignments…. There is something very hopeful in the message of this book.”
—From the Foreword by Yasmin B. Kafai, Distinguished Professor, University of Pennsylvania
“The field of education has been waiting for Building the Innovation School, by T. Philip Nichols. Written in an engaging conversational tone, yet deeply informed theoretically and empirically, Nichols’s groundbreaking scholarship examines the tensions of educational reform initiatives driven by entrepreneurial models. It also provides a paradigm-shifting conceptual framework for understanding the possibilities of innovation in a manner attentive to issues of power, social justice, and the public good. It is a book that deserves to be widely read by anyone invested in creative schools that build off of the cultural wealth of communities.”
—Gerald Campano, professor, University of Pennsylvania
“The hype around 'innovation’ in education requires our careful, critical attention—this exceptionally well-written study is a great place to start.”
—Neil Selwyn, Distinguished Professor, Monash University, Melbourne
Download the Online Appendix and Discussion Guide as a PDF
2022 Literacy Research Association (LRA) Early Career Achievement Award, to Philip T. Nichols