The Marriage of Maintenance and Innovation

She was most concerned about someone accusing her of not looking after her family’s best interests and letting her kids do “whatever they want.” But, she wasn’t prepared to give up because she felt that homeschooling gave her to chance to model respectful communication with our children, something she has seen is not prevalent in traditional school settings. My recommendation to her was to start a notebook and write down her observations about what the children are learning. This could be her “gradebook” of sorts that if we were ever taken to court for neglect it would show a record of the types of work that they’re doing on a regular basis. She decided to do it; she’s still going strong after over a year of daily entries. The entries are thoughtful and include picture evidence of their activities most of the time. She had tried scrapbooking for a while but this has totally taken its place. Of all the things in our house, these notebooks would be the items I would most want to save. I will treasure their contents for the rest of my life. As I watched her work on this notebook over the last year I saw a beautiful concept emerge.

I’m an innovator. I love the ideas that stretch our minds and abilities past what we thought they could previously do.  Kristen is a maintainer. The thought of changing the way she’s doing something stresses her out. But once she adopts a new idea she will do it without fail. That’s the marriage of innovation and maintenance. Innovation by itself is great but can only take you so far. If no one stays around to maintain the innovation then it becomes useless. But maintenance falls into the same issue. If we only maintain what we have right now, we will not improve anything. The idea for the notebook was mine but it’s worthless without the content; that’s where maintenance shines. I think many innovators fail because we don’t know how to maintain and persevere through hardship. Nobody likes our idea so we just look for the next one. But a good idea has to have timing and distribution. You might be able to innovate every facet of your process, but if you can’t consistently deliver the goods and services people see the use for, you’ll be sunk.

We need innovative teachers working in education. They’re the minds that are pushing us to meet the needs of students more than we thought we could. But many innovators are prone to giving up. We need to help them become maintainers or put in place maintainers to do the work. Maintenance isn’t always pretty or exciting, but it’s necessary.

Philip Mott

I've been working with families for two decades now. I write about topics pertaining to parents of children ages 4-12.

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