Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Why Is Change So Darned HARD?

Change, no matter how you approach it, can be difficult. 
  • Change can begin as a soft breeze, whispering in one person's ear. 
  • Change can come in the form of a tornado, ripping everything off the foundations, leaving a blank slate.  
  • Change can seem confusing or odd, indistinguishable when close up
  • Change can be frustrating or even infuriating while figuring things out.  
Imagine, if you will, a Rube Goldberg creation.  I would like to call this machine CHANGE. There are many intricate facets to this "change," and all parts are trying to get to a point where they work together. Each little part in the machine is curious and exciting, each part is a cause which brings about it's own effect, but then it becomes a yet another new cause...you get the point, right?

The Automated Napkin
Now imagine, if you will, that education in the state of Oklahoma (perhaps even the entire United States?) is a Rube Goldberg machine.  We know what we want this machine to do. We want it to be efficient and effective (and it sure would be nice if everyone oohed and aahed over it).  However, we are at that exasperating part mid-creation of putting the machine together and figuring out the timing of it all...figuring out which facet to adjust first to make the biggest improvements (or fastest, or easiest, etc). The problem is that when we adjust the doo-hickey over here, then...

...this little gadget's placement is off...

...which adversely affects timing of the what-cha-ma-call-it...  

...so, that makes several other gadgets will...






So, I now have a visual of the problem. I have goal of what I want my "machine" to do. But, I still do not understand what makes people reticent to change. What makes even the idea of change cause the hairs on the backs of our necks to rise? 

Well, I did a bit of research on the matter. First, as an ELA teacher, I ensured I used the correct homonyms choices for affect/effect.  In looking it up, I LOL'd.  I chuckled. Audibly. (No, really, I did!) Look at what I found at an online grammar dictionary:

Affect is a verb. It means to produce a change in or influence something.
Effect is a noun that can also be used as a verb. It means a change that occurred. When an "s" is added, "effects" means personal belongings.   
<<emphasis/highlighting mine>>
So, quite possibly we are frightened by the possible affects of change, but we appreciate the effects that occur after the change...?
(Re-read and let that percolate or simmer or digest...whatever your body does best.)

In my quest to determine why change is so blasted tough, I read articles, definitions, and blog posts.  I'd like to share with you one I found helpful, entitled Why Change Is So Difficult (and 9 ways to make it easier) . I found the crux of the matter in the last two sentences:

A tree can choose not to bend in the wind. 
Eventually, though, conditions will produce winds strong enough 
to break the tree if continues not to bend.

I'm not proclaiming to be an expert, but after my search I think our state finally has a great captain at the helm of S.S. OSDE, Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hoffmeister. Joy seems to be making great strides towards the end goal of our state educational system becoming effective and efficient.  Thank you, Mrs. Hoffmeister, for removing writing field tests from our students' plate!  I ask you, the reader, to please tweet a thanks, yourself (@joy4ok). 

Could it be the more impassioned the educator, the more passionate the response to change we have? Or are educators in our state tired of status quo and are ready to MAKE a change happen?  I'm not sure, but perhaps I should sum up my thoughts this way: 

Passionate educators who are passionate about the goal (or end result) feel more passionately about the journey of how we get there.

Yeesh...somehow that doesn't quite "fit," but at 1:15am on a Monday/Tuesday, I think I'd best leave the unsettled business for another post. I'm not solving this tonight. (That's JOB SECURITY, Joy!)

Care to comment?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

Cathy Benge


Scott Haselwood said...

This is a great post! People fear change, I think, because they do not know exactly what the other side of that change will look like. It takes courage to make/create change, but my experience is that it is usually worth it.

Oliver Schinkten said...

Great Post! Thank you for sharing your perspective! I agree 100% that change is necessary. VERY NECESSARY!

I also wonder why education is so reluctant to change. In almost every other arena, such as business, sports, defense, etc... if you do not change, you become irrelevant and fade away. I believe that "school" is close to this point. One major issue is that we are measuring success with stupid standardized test scores. This is like a business measuring their success by how many paper towels are used in their bathrooms (that is the dumbest example I could think of).

In my observation, by nature, educators are more afraid of change than other professions. They want to see how something works first. This is not how change and innovation happen. They were good at the game of school and so it perpetuates. If it is the students that we care about, I really believe it is time for all of us: teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community members, to DEMAND change and actively do something about it.

Thank you for sharing your insight and perspective. I hope that many people read this and then act upon it!

Oliver Schinkten
ComPassion Based Learning

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