Nobody likes to hear it


Nobody likes to hear that they need to change.

Nobody likes to be told that they’re not there yet.

Nobody likes the unrelenting messages that we need to do things differently.

And therein lies the challenge. Because we DO need to change, we DO need to do things differently, and we are NOT there yet.

But folks get defensive. And angry. Or they withdraw. Or they just get tired. Tired of hearing again and again that what’s occurring isn’t sufficient for either today or tomorrow. Even when maybe, just maybe, they also know it’s true.

It’s tough to be change advocates. Or change agents. Or pains in the butt, as some call us. It would be so much easier to temper the rhetoric, to roll back the expectations, to ramp back the pace. But we know that we need to stay the course. Because our students – and our educators – and our society – need and deserve something different.

So we try to capture hearts and minds and articulate visions of what can be. We try to show models and exemplars of places that are further along and doing some of this. We try to put in support structures to help folks get there. We ask really tough questions. We enlist allies. We help in any way that we can. We encourage and we plead. We push and we pull. Is it arrogance? Is it passion? Maybe it depends on your perspective.

We don’t always do it well. We don’t always succeed. Sometimes people hate us. But sometimes people are ready to get moving.

The journey continues…

Image credit: Montana highway, Mark Hamilton

8 Responses to “Nobody likes to hear it”

  1. Scott,

    Might it not be that it not that we advocate for change but how we advocate for change? To me the genius of a change agent is building self-esteem along with new behaviors. Can we build others not just tear them down?


  2. Not to be trite, but my change might be your status quo and your change might be my status quo … I’m expecting you to change to my new reality and you’re expecting me to change to yours … mine is so obviously the way to go to me (you dope!) and yours is so obviously the way to go to you (yeah right!) …. hence one of the roadblocks to change. 🙂

  3. Yes, absolutely. The fun part is that the ‘how’ varies from person to person, group to group. What works for one may not for another…

    Also, the challenge sometimes is that merely identifying/calling attention to the problem is seen as ‘tearing down.’ 🙁

  4. It feels more like we forget that change is a process, not an event. We won’t welcome change with a big celebration, parade, or concert. Change is usually only really known to the person(s) doing the actual changing. I’ve found that when you say change your thinking, people get defensive, but when you say, evolve your thinking, people tend to give that idea more thought.

    Try it, evolve your practice, instead of change your practice. One is more about growth mindsets, the other tends to be interpreted as there being a problem.

  5. I think that as terrible as conditions may be—whenever and wherever—there are always positive outcomes, there are always those who find a way. In the technical sense we might consider them some kind of hackers, or social engineers. To me, they are inspirations, unequivocally, so I cannot turn a blind eye to their ever being disregarded or misvalued. Therein lays the value in a discussion about the merits of change from “within” versus outside revolution. And, I don’t really know who has the authority or the privilege to begin this discussion as it will undoubtedly divide the voices of reform, collectively.

    But the point I want to stress is that there is no perfect ideal state for any system; there is no fruition with out struggle, there is no passion without knowledge, there is no love without duty; there is no language or communication without reference or reason or agreement. So to me the question becomes one of first principles, not one of coping or dealing, after the fact. To question is not necessarily to doubt, so we can always look back to our roots to find direction. The grievances of those who are content with the status quo can be of no real concern to those who wish to progress and grow, and succeed and journey on—regardless of where they are each coming from—otherwise there is no one else to blame but ourselves when we seem to have lagged behind.

  6. Its fun to get philosophical about change, but the concern of not wanting to change is a real problem. How long can we afford to offer substandard education to our children. The type of education that makes our students hate school? Other times change happens, and we should relish those times when an old out of date practice/method is replaced. Upward and onward to a better future. Sometimes those “victories” can phase out something we’ll miss later on. Just because something is new, doesn’t mean its better.

    I think this is the crux of the situation. I believe that many of our fellow citizens know change must happen, and that change is good. The problem is we don’t always know where that change will take us. I feel comforted that although I might totally disagree with a politician, teacher, administrator’s point of view, and that I may lose out, we are all wanting the same thing. We want a better and brighter future. The problem is that there is no clear map that we can all see the proper route to follow. There is no one who can 100% tell us the destination of each path.

    • While no one can 100% tell us what the destination of different paths will be, we can be pretty sure that trying to preserve and prop up many of our analog-era strategies isn’t going to serve kids very well…

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