This will be another short post as I’ve learned something about myself these past few months. If I keep it short, I’m more likely to write. If it is too long, it feels like I’m writing a research paper, and I’m less inclined to put down my thoughts.
Last week, I overheard a comment that has stuck with me the past few days. In education, we are often asked to change practice, or try something new, whether or not there’s follow-through is another matter entirely, but it’s not the point I want to make here.
When educators are asked to break from a current practice in favour of something new, be it a new tool, or instructional strategy, it is rarely alright to make the statement: “This is working, why do I have to do something different?” Without a doubt, we need to think critically about the plethora of new trends that we are inundated with on a near-daily basis, especially those of us connected with hundreds, if not thousands, of educators on social media. Dare I say, that a lot of the stuff that floods our inboxes, or trickles down our social media feeds, is not worthy of our attention; it’s not going to make any difference to our learners, and arguably, may even have negative repercussions. We need more filters than ever before! There may be no legitimate reason to abandon a current practice in favour of something new, simply because it is new. Newer doesn’t equate to better.
With that out of the way, allow me to turn to the issue I have with the statement above. When we close ourselves off to something new, it is often the result of putting our own self-serving interests above what is best for our learners. When we say something is working, are we taking into account the interests of all stakeholders, namely our learners, or are we thinking only about what is working for us? Further, if it’s working for you, is it simply because it’s comfortable? Perhaps doing something one way over an extended amount of time generates this feeling of comfort. What if we were to ask: “How is this better than before?” or “How is this going to benefit my learners?” When faced with something that may require a change in practice, we need to be asking these questions. Moreover, we need to be approaching these questions with an open mind as the answer may necessitate change. Listen, think critically, be prepared to act, and poised to repeat this process.