Aug 3, 2012
Comments Off on Is Incremental Change Enough?

Is Incremental Change Enough?

I was charged by a colleague and friend for being someone who wanted big change. Guilty.

I was charged by the same colleague and friend for being someone who expected people to recognize the need for change. Guilty.

Her claim was that I expected big sweeping changes and I don’t give enough credit to small incremental change and that the latter is the only thing that will make the big changes we need.

And she might be right. Maybe I need to focus on the little changes.

A teacher sets up a class website. Celebrate. A teacher uses some formative assessment. Celebrate. A teacher uses one less worksheet. Celebrate.

I see her point, that if I’m so stuck on waiting for the big stuff, I never acknowledge the movement that is taking place. At a certain point, I try to rely on that. I pride myself on my “incremental change” when it comes to the environment, my buying habits and parlaying principles into actions. I recognize that I can’t live free of all the damage we do. I always say the best step you can take is the next one.

But this is different, isn’t it? Education is already 10 years behind.

The way our students interact with the world is changing so much quicker than incremental change will allow. Check out youtube, Khan Academy, heck even Instructables,  they are all a demonstration that education is now truly public. Something is being added to that list weekly. A spot where any student can get what they need and to know what they need is within reach.

Yet, we rely on textbooks and worksheets. A fixed place, time and subject of learning. We still expect students to sit still and listen to me. Non-stop, all day in subjects we deem important.

And so I say to my colleague and friend, I am guilty of wanting big change. I am guilty of expecting people to recognize the change and make it happen. Because, the way I see it, incremental change is important, but it’s not enough.

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