Monday, 11 June 2012

Managing Change


‘Change Management’ is generally seen as a process of transition from a current state to a desired new future state.  Change management can be affected for groups from individuals to organisations.  Some even attempt to affect change in a whole industry – the International Teacher Development Institute (itdi.pro), for example, is changing the way English language teachers develop teaching skills by creating a dedicated community that provides support, encouragement and leadership.
Broadly speaking, change can be affected in 2 ways.  It can be forced (F-change) or nurtured (N-change). 

A quick search online throws up three distinct meanings of ‘manage’.  They are:
1. Part of Speech: verb.  Definition: be in charge, control, dominate.
2. Part of Speech: verb.  Definition: survive, get by, cope, endure.
3. Part of Speech: verb.  Definition: achieve, bring about, conclude.

It is how the process is managed that defines how change is affected.  F-change is managed by those seeking to affect change in an organization in the sense defined in 1.  The change is imposed, controlled and dominated by those managing the change.
Under F-change, those most affected, the employees of the organization, have to cope with what is imposed – i.e. they manage change in the sense defined in 2.  They get by, or survive the change imposed.


N-Change is change from within.  It is a process that involves all concerned, that includes the employees as well as the employers and that happens by choice.  In this scenario change is managed in the sense of definition 3 - i.e. N-change is brought about by all involved.



iTDi is ‘for teachers by teachers’.  It is change from within, affected by all those that participate and involve themselves – N-Change.  What is your experience of change management?  Have you experienced F-change or N-change and how successful was it?

Friday, 8 June 2012

The Purpose of Education

At a recent meeting at my daughter’s school involving representatives of the teaching staff, the school’s council and some parents, I was struck by the school’s determination to offer a program that encouraged its pupils to be both creative and remarkable.  This school is one of many who are questioning the role of education and aligning themselves to 21st century needs. 

This is a necessary endeavor and one that all schools should be undertaking and it has led me to question what schooling is actually for, and the needs of society schools should be addressing.  There is, I think, a disjoint between what schools have traditionally offered and the needs of society.

Education produces adults who are:
Economies need adults who are:
obedient
compliant
homogenized
consumers

aware
independent
creative
improvisers
caring


19th century industrialization, which led to the creation of universal education was based on low-cost uniformity to educate students to a minimum standard to produce compliant workers and eager consumers. Strange though that as consumers we increasingly demand customization and personalization of what we purchase but don’t have the same expectations of mass education.

In Japan there is an expression about ‘knocking down the nail that sticks out’ – implying that uniformity is the goal.  UK politicians have recently cited Japan’s education system as one to admire and aspire to.  I disagree, not because Japan’s system doesn’t produce graduates of a high standard – it does, particularly in mathematics and science rather than in the ‘softer’ (harder to test?) subjects – but because in seeking uniformity, ultimately some talent gets wasted and some young adults don’t get to follow their ‘passion’.  Seth Godin, writing about marketing in  his book ‘Purple Cow’ states that the opposite of ‘remarkable’ is ‘good’.  I believe this can be applied to school graduates also – that producing remarkable adults ought to be the goal and that ‘good’ is not good enough.

Meeting minimum standards is also not much of an aspiration.  It leads, in my opinion, to a ‘most children left behind’ world where adults miss out on finding their true talents and end up bored or disgruntled in the jobs they have.

To transform the system and encourage schools to strive to produce remarkable adults we have to ask ourselves if there is a need to change teacher education. Are we mass-producing teachers indoctrinated into teaching for a bygone age?  The answer may be yes and no, but it is as good a place to start asking questions as any.