Friday, January 15, 2016

Why Change?

Image Source: User Riddin,

Margaret Willis (1899–1987, see Were We Guinea Pigs?, Stories from the Eight-Year Study), a progressive educator, believed that teachers (and schools) needed to turn away from the repetitive, the monotonous, the rote, and the standardized. Willis chose to live the life of intellectual adventurer, a choice she advocated other educators to embrace. Willis said, “one of the poorest criteria would be that an individual has been so happy and secure in a stereotyped learning situation that he goes on perpetuating it” (Kridel and Bullough, 2007, p. 205).

Although I agree with Willis, I believe many teachers choose the profession because they have positive recollections of their schooling experience. They were at peace playing the game of school, being compliant, and doing the safe. They create the same experience for their students. Thus, education becomes a reproductive force, rather than a transformative one. The system worked for them. Why wouldn’t it work for their students?

If this is, indeed, the case, why would educators see the need for a different type of schooling? Why would teachers have an interest in changing instruction, curriculum, or structures when they worked for them?

Many people demand educational and social change (for good reason), but we forget that many others ask why change?


Willis vignette: Kridel, C. & Bullough, Jr., R. V. (2007). Stories of the Eight Year Study: Rethinking Schooling in America. Albany: SUNY Press, pp. 203–209.

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