Working to Prevent Change: Schools Are “Outed”! (Part 6)
Sometimes, no, actually most of the time, we do things a certain way simply because it is the only way we know or it is the way it has always been done. There is nothing wrong with practicing a consistent approach to reach a standard product, if indeed the product is some thing. We should really question why we do so when it involves someone.
During my high school teaching days, I had the privilege of organizing job shadowing experiences for some of my students. They were always excited about the opportunity to live in the shoes of someone who was actually involved in a career that interested them, even if for just one day.
As the day approached, students would usually ask me what they should do or how they should prepare for this experience.
My answer was always the same. Indeed, it remains my most common advice for nearly everything… “Ask lots of questions. You cannot get answers for anything, if you have not asked. Also, be sure to ask this one very important question and when you do, you can ignore the first answer,” I would say. “Be sure to ask what they do not like about their job.”
This always brought confusion to the students which was clarified once they had completed their job shadowing experience. Upon their return, we would discuss their experience, including the questions they had asked, which always led to that all-important question that I had suggested.
When they asked why they should ignore the first answer, my response was that the first answer is always the same, … politics. I was right every time.
If there is one thing that drives people to frustration in their careers, it is the political games that people play. Some are better at it than others. Some play fair, while others don’t. Why all the politics, one would ask?
There are two driving forces that create a political atmosphere. The first is a natural propensity for some to want to be the top dog or king. Unfortunately, sometimes that means undermining your colleagues so you can make yourself look better. This is the politics most people despise.
The second reason politics exists in the workplace is fear. Whether it is the fear of others, the fear of change or the fear of doing something different, it is undergirded by an overarching fear of being wrong. This fear vehemently rejects any possibility for change and/or improvements and as a consequence, does everything within its power to maintain the status quo.
It survives on a premise that everything is fine as it is. To suggest otherwise is to suggest that what exists could be wrong or no longer the right way to do things which is most often seen as a personal attack. This is why there is such a profound resistance to change.
Schools truly represent this in a most emphatic way! If one was to ask whether the world has changed in the last hundred, fifty or even thirty years, everyone would say, absolutely. If it was further asked whether people and institutions should be adapting to those changes, the answer would once again be affirmative.
Why then are schools essentially using the same techniques, same methodology, same pedagogy, same everything about anything? Because this is the way it has always been done and we feel most comfortable doing what we are familiar with.
As a consequence of this intransigent thinking, schools have not really changed with the times and so have become antiquated, inefficient and irrelevant, if not obsolete.
Maybe it is time to stop updating an old school system and completely reform it to be more like home education. The COVID-19 pandemic may have greatly expedited this process.
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