📑 Making Change in Education – Champions are for Charlatans

Quote via Future Tense’s Reflections on the Smart Phone https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/reflections-on-the-smart-phone/10472876
Bookmarked Making change in education – champions are for charlatans by dave dave
Educational technology is replete with consultants who have never managed change. They may have been good teachers or just like to take your money, but this doesn’t mean that they are going to help you change your school. I am always suspicious of the consultant who wants to work with the school superstar. (odds are they were a school superstar too before they became a consultant). Real change is hard, and slow, and takes careful planning. Superstars mostly just give you the appearance of change.
Dave Cormier reflects upon the change approach of “working with the ‘willing’ first” and wonders if this is wrong approach. This approach is based on the concept diffusion of innovation popularised by Everett Rogers. See Bryan Mathers’ drawing for a visual summary.

Curve of Innovation

Diffusion of Innovation by @bryanMMathers is licenced under CC-BY-ND

Rather than sustainable change, focusing on the guaranteed +1 is both unethical and creates a super star culture. Something I have touch d upon in the past:

I have lost count of the times I have been asked to reflect on my past and recall a great teacher. For me, these teachers were those that often pushed against the grain, who stood out in the crowd, maybe broke the rules, seemingly going above and beyond. Maybe these are worthy attributes to have, but at what cost? The question that often goes unasked is what context allows for the creation of such teachers and is it always positive? Who suffers and what is lost in the process? Are great teachers in fact bad teachers?

Cormier instead argues that the focus needs to be on long term change, with a plan to solve an actual problem. Associated with this, it is important to make space for such change, what Tom Barrett describes as innovation compression.

When new programmes are introduced, that draw down on the finite energy and effort from those involved without stopping other parallel ideas and releasing resource reserves, we get innovation compression, and a potential weakening of the original ideas.

This is also something that I have discussed in regards to my concern about ‘great teachers’:

Although working with an awesome group of like-minded teachers might seem like the best answer to fix our woes if this is not coupled with a clear understanding of the purposes associated with education them what is actually gained?

Rather than the right teacher, I would argue that we need to focus on the right culture and environment:

The problem with picking the right teacher is that there is no definitive means of finding such a person. This right teacher implies that we are fixed in everything that we do and think. In addition to this, the ‘right’ teacher for today, may not be the ‘right’ teacher for tomorrow. Another alternative is to provide the conditions for the right teacher to develop and grow.

Although not directly related, this reminds me of Charlotte Pezaro and Marten Koomen’s four questions to consider about conferences. I also wonder how distributed leadership fits with Cormier’s approach.

4 responses on “📑 Making Change in Education – Champions are for Charlatans”

  1. Aaron’s comments 📑 Making Change in Education – Champions are for Charlatans illuminate and extend Dave Cormier’s post: Making change in education – champions are for charlatans
    A good read for thinking about how Teaching and Learning changes.
    I am not sure that splitting folk into champions, middle 60% and Laggards is quite accurate as folk may be enthusiastic about one thing and not another. It is useful to think about. We certainly need to think about the idea of superstar teachers and promoters of change.

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  2. Thanks for sharing Aaron. Good food for thought. I agree with Dave. Indentifying areas for improvement & talking about change processes are relatively easy. Living, breathing & enacting change in schools is much, much harder.

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