The old adage “the only constant is change” is arguably one of most poignant and truthful statements ever made. Most of us can agree we are fearful of what change means for us. There is a lot to be said about being comfortable and feeling safe. How often has change meant giving up that comfort and that security? Maybe too often for many of us.
Still, change will happen. There is no circumventing it or curtailing it; it truly is a constant. Time is the only real factor; how much time will pass before change occurs?
Well, as the setup above suggests, I am in the midst of change; however, for once this is change that I’m not frightened of because I’m one of the reasons the change is occurring. (Strange how it is more comforting to be the agent of change rather than effect of change.) Although I am enjoying this alteration, I have many whom I work with that are in a place that many of us find ourselves in the whims of change–wary, weary, and wry.
Educators have a bad track record of being adversaries of change. We love the comfort lecturing brings and the privileges of being in a profession that supplies a pension when many others no longer do. When anything new comes along that threatens this comfort, we become defensive and abrasive as a mirthless, contemptuous feline. (Sorry cat lovers.) My concentration today isn’t on the embattled debate over performance pay, but rather the battle of changing curricula and “sudden” paradigm shifts. You see, as undergraduate students, and even more so as masters students, an educator is taught constructivist theory and Piaget’s research into student-centered learning; however, after thirteen years of grade school programing, most educators, including college professors, teach in the lecture style still. See, you’re bored already.
This weekend I will be sharing with any of you willing to read about a program I had the pleasure and privilege of piloting this year at my high school. The program is almost entirely constructivist in nature and changes perceptions of how students learn best. Needless to say, the program has been met with resistance from other educators. There appears to be an inherent threat involved in changing the status quo. I’ve been in countless meetings this year defending the program and allying any fears parents or colleagues have had about the program. Still, the fear of change remains. I am proud to be a part of something that could finally shift our education system into the 21st century, but in the meantime, there will be a need for comforting and defending.
Do not get me wrong. There is certainly a place for the traditional lecture class, but change is good when we are patient and willing to learn from the lessons our mistakes teach us. And that is precisely the paradigm we have to shift. The mindset of “no mistakes” has to change as uncomfortable as that may be for us. Folks, it is time to change the blueprint–
“He who makes no mistakes, often times makes nothing at all.”