Spare a thought for the frontline innovators… it’s tough

Anne Knock
2 min readApr 22, 2021


The latest educational furore in my state is an example of the application of causal linear thinking in a complex world. A newish school in my city is known for pushing the boundaries of change and innovation. It’s tough and those frontline innovators remind me of the Far Side cartoon: “Bummer of a birthmark, Hal”

“Bummer of a birthmark, Hal” Gary Larson, Far Side

My comment here is not on the situation that is currently in the media. You can read it for yourself here: How pictures on BLM on a classroom ceiling ignited a storm

Rather it is questioning the linear thinking that when something flairs up, it is because X = Y, in this case, student-centred, future-focused education must equate with subversive left-wing radicalisation.

The main protagonist in the story is a member of state parliament who represents a right wing minority party. This person has managed to seemingly gain influence on educational policy.Talking on the radio to a like-minded populist commentator about the school he was quoted

“it sounds like it’s a sinkhole for leftist ideological teaching”.

“I’m told the school has three types of toilets for five-year-olds: a boys toilet, a girls toilet, and a gender-neutral toilet” (Article here)

And shock-horror, students don’t wear uniform and call their teachers by their first names. Rather than an attempt at inculcating young minds subversive leftist ideologies, could it not be that these teachers have the needs of the learner at the heart, eschewing the notion of passive students ploughing through textbooks?

I am not advocating for any political ideology, my interest here is serving the needs of each learner. We need to be a society where we value change in complexity. It does mean that from time-to-time incidents will happen, that is because we are navigating uncharted territory. We always knew that the 21st century would present new challenges, we didn’t realise the extent of this. No one is going to get it 100% right .

It is tempting to see elements such as desks in rows, students in uniform and text-book driven curriculum as comforting images of stability. But our students today and tomorrow are facing uncertainty on so many fronts, school education needs fresh eyes.

Change in complexity is messy, there will be mistakes and sometimes it feels like one step forward and two steps back. But you know, that’s still progress.

Love to hear your thoughts.