Disruptive Innovation: Do We Boogie Board or Surf?

Surfing the larger waves requires a skill set I don’t currently have.

I’m not a surfer by any means, and I don’t live that stereotypical California beach lifestyle. However, my family and I often make trips to the beautiful beaches that Southern California has to offer.  When we go to the beach, I get in the water, but I can’t swim. As I am leaving the sand and entering the water, I always say a prayer and make sure that I go no deeper than the middle of my chest.  My favorite activity when I am in the water, boogie boarding. I will go out by myself, or with my kids for hours when we are at the beach. 

What does boogie boarding have to do with “disruptive innovation” in education? Well, as I stated earlier I am not a surfer.  If you’ve been to the beach and watched surfers, you know that the surfers want to take the big waves. These waves require the surfer to go into what I would consider to be deep waters. Boogie boarding allows you to start in the more shallow part of the ocean and be closer to the shore.  This idea of starting small applies perfectly to the idea of disruptive innovation.

I was overwhelmed when thinking about some sort of disruptive innovation that I could use in my “organization”.  I envisioned a fight with my department chair, my principal, my superintendent and everyone in between.  What I realized from the reading is that I can be a disruptive innovator in my own classroom.  I will try a project and once I have seen the positive  results of the innovations in my own classroom, I can then take those innovations to my colleagues. Yet again, I can be in the shallow part of the ocean and closer to the shore!  In their 2008 book, Disrupting Class, “Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn, and Curtis Johnson tag online learning as the type of technology that could catalyze disruptive innovation in K through 12 education. Instead, they predicted that disruption would unfold at the level of instruction not governance.” (Arnett, 2020)  

If it’s your first time visiting the beach and specifically a beach that has strong waves, I would recommend that you only go waist high in the water even if you can swim. Once you get used to the rhythm of the water, then you can move out into the deep.  Likewise, start disrupting in your own space first, this way you won’t be drowned in the deeper waves of educational red tape.


Arnett, T. (2020, December 10). Is this the moment in history when k 12 school system gets disrupted. christenseninstitute.org. Retrieved January 24, 2021, from https://www.christenseninstitute.org/blog/is-this-the-moment-in-history-when-k-12-school-systems-get-disrupted/

Horn, M. B., & Staker, H. (2015). blended Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools. Jossey-Bass.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s