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Are You Suffering Change Fatigue?

Staff in many schools are complaining of change fatigue. We seem to be constantly changing. The Australian Federal government’s recent announcement of Gonski 2.0 has further contributed to this uneasy feeling.

The latest Gonski report includes philosophical beliefs that most educators support but is VERY light on the how of implementation. The WHY without the HOW adds to the feeling of exhaustion brought on by a feeling of constantly on a journey of change but never actually arriving.

I fear that staff in many schools are starting to ‘switch off’ and go into survival mode whenever they hear the “C” word – change. Albert Einstein is often quoted as saying, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

It is timely that I have been reading “The Innovator’s Mindset” by George Couros (thanks for the recommendation, Marc Warwick.  In this great read, Court emphasises that the inevitably of change is not to be feared but embraced. “Change is an opportunity to do something amazing”.

The mindset of ‘having the opportunity to do something amazing’ creates a completely different energy level to the mindset of ‘I have another change to lead, policy to implement, box to tick, form to fill in or task to complete for compliance’.

Couros highlights, “that even in schools with the latest technology, teachers and leaders use that advanced equipment to do the same things they did before. A tool that could change education for the better – a laptop, tablet or interactive whiteboard – too often ends up becoming the equivalent of a thousand-dollar pencil.”

Couros also rightly highlights that inside too many of these tech-equipped schools are many uninspired students who believe traditional education is irrelevant. Disengaged students who see schooling as irrelevant add significantly to the stress of teachers.

The love of learning and endless curiosity evident in very young children often dwindles during their schooling.  Sadly, as an education system, we have extinguished the love of learning of many. As Couros puts it, “If students leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them.”

I am worried that the intent and opportunity of Gonski 2.0 to radically improve education will suffer the same fate. We need to rethink the role of schools in education as well as how they operate. Shoe-horning Gonski 2.0 philosophies for personalised learning into existing structures will not be successful. The intended outcomes will not be achieved and we will continue to exhaust well-intentioned teachers and leaders in schools.

It’s time for educators to take a stand, embrace the awesomeness of the opportunities we have to change people’s lives and reinvent schools. Life is a much more enjoyable experience with an adventurous mindset. Perhaps it is time for a revolution rather than a tweaking of existing practice. How could you really shake things up in your school and really engage students with curiosity and passion? I’d rather use my energy on making a real difference rather than surviving a bout of change fatigue.

We need to create what Teach Like A Pirate author Dave Burgess describes as experiences where students are “knocking down the doors to get in!”