The view that teachers are change-aversive is wrong

Teachers don’t like change! They’re fossils who just don’t want to see and do what’s right. The OECD’s CERI unit recently published a report that disproves this frame. Dirk van Damme has a well written introduction to the research: how can education systems embrace innovation. To anyone who has been following education policy (globally) this is of course completely stating the obvious. Having been on the receiving end for 12 years it has been one of the reason to get involved in innovation and educational policy on a wider scale.

Teacher leadership is one of the keys to educational reform. This research is one step in a growing body of evidence on how to implement change. Most notable The Global Fourth Way, Professional Capital and Finish Lessons have build upon lessons learned from countries and regions which have gotten educational reform right. It is the basis for our book  “” (The Alternative) and our policy initiative  (Learning Together) In we will explore this issue further together with teachers and researchers around the world.

“The core of the dispute is not so much about the actual amount of change and innovation in education, but about the process – how change and innovation happen. A lot of well-intentioned innovations fail not because of a lack of quality or because their intended direction of change is wrong, but because of how they have been implemented. Teachers will be able to give you rich accounts of top-down innovations, implemented without much consultation, without taking into account the experiences and knowledge base at the point of delivery of education. Lack of trust, lack of ownership, a poor evidence base, and lack of empowerment of the key actors – these seem to be the main ingredients of the recipe for failure in changing education.”

“Too often education ministers and policy makers react by tightening the screws, i.e. by reinforcing accountability, supervision and bureaucratic control systems. This may lead to short-term behavioural adjustments of the actors in the system, but very rarely to sustainable change.”

“What makes for effective, sustainable innovation and reform: the professionalism of teachers and school leaders, strong knowledge-management frameworks and trust among all stakeholders and actors in the system. Professionals bring about innovation when they have a stake in it, when they see the evidence and the supporting knowledge base as credible, and when they trust their colleagues. In the same vein, parents will commit to innovative change when they feel involved and listened to, and when they understand the rationales and underlying evidence for change.”

In Flip the System we will explore this issue further together with teachers and researchers around the world.

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