Son of Flubber

How do we support innovation in our schools?

In 1963, Fred MacMurray, in the film Son of Flubber tells us in a dramatic courtroom speech what we should do.  

flubber.jpgHe tells us that we are living in a time of fear….fear of smog, fear of bombs, fear of bugs, fear of falling hair.   

When asked by the prosecutor if he would continue to encourage his students to experiment, he tells the courtroom that his students may not be studious, but that they were unafraid.  And that because they were unfraid to make mistakes, he tells the courtroom, they may someday save the world.   The professor’s unwavering faith in teaching his students’ to learn through exploration and experimenting is undeterred.

How do we handle the Professor Brainards in our schools?   Do we squelch or encourage them?   Do we question their way of viewing the world?  Do we only believe things when we see them with our own eyes?   Do we support, tenaciously, the power of experimentation for our students?  Do we believe that by sowing the seeds of innovation, that the fruits  of our efforts will later crop up?  

In 1963, Professor Brainard understood.   Do we, 48 years later?

2 thoughts on “Son of Flubber

  1. We could easily rewrite those lines in 2008. We are living in a time of fear: NCLB, recession, oil prices, etc.

    The question is how do the Prof. Brainards of today lend a hand to others. I haven’t asked my principal to talk with teachers about my online education over the last several months yet (in a formal way). I’m evaluating a lot of what I’ve been reading in other blog posts recently.

    I do enjoy experimentation with my students. I see the whole student body of the school and love showing them the possibilities. I have pulled other teachers into the projects as I need their help and we’re moving, at least, not standing still. I guess that’s what counts for me at the moment.

  2. Well, it’s good to know I’m only 44 years late (hey, do the math — this is my age we’re talking about here!) in my recent lament to a colleague about the state of perpetual fear that seems to have gripped education from teachers who fear losing “expert” status in their 2.0 classrooms, to students who fear caring about academics, and being expected to think, to administrators who fear anything not “tired –oh, tried– and true”

    Eleanor Roosevelt’s perhaps apocryphal exhortation to “Do one thing every day that scares you” ought to be required of all of us. And no, walking in the classroom door shouldn’t have to count!

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