In the middle third of today’s post, Seth Godin has something interesting to say about the way people process change.
If you’re eager for change, every bit of information and every event represents an opportunity to learn, to grow and to change for the better. You hear some advice and you listen to it, consider it (possibly reject it), iterate on it and actually do something different in response.
On the other hand, if you’re afraid of change or in love with the path you’re on or focused obsessively on your GTD list, then incoming represents a distraction and a risk. So you process it with the narrative, “how can this input be used to further what I’ve already decided to do?” At worst, you ignore it. At best, you use a tiny percentage of it to your advantage.
I’m pretty sure our leadership (principals, assorted superintendents, school board members, politicians, etc.) has heard a large variety of ideas and advice about school reform. Certainly that’s reflected in all their talk about “21st century” this, 4C’s that, global perspective, innovation, Finland, etc.
However, based on what is actually done with all those ideas, what becomes part of daily practice, I’m convinced most of those “leaders” fall in Godin’s second group.
Part of it has to do with the illusion that our overly-large school district is already doing a great job, the path only requires minor course corrections, and that we really do have a very long GTD list* to work on (starting and ending with preparing for the SOLs).
But anytime someone suggests radically altering our traditional processes, it’s not hard to sense that fear of change lingering in the background.
* I’m assuming GTD stands for Got To Do. Someone let me know if I’m off base with that.