Some of the progressive ideas we have embraced in our education system are so basic to the ways we think about education today that we often take them for granted. Some examples are child-centric approach, project-based classrooms, self-directed learning, modern learning environments, etc. These would have been considered inconceivable even heretic a few decades ago when ruler-wielding teachers taught autocratically while students sat quietly in neat rows at their wooden desks memorizing facts from text books. These new ideas did not emerge in a vacuum but have a history of advocacy, heated debates and public discourse to support them. These changes represent true transformation what we now consider commonsensical. But not all change leads to transformation nor brings about the desired outcome.
All schools in some degree undergo cyclical changes in response to needs and requirements of times. In recent years involvement in professional development programmes (Professional Learning and Development or PLD) is one way schools incorporate change. While the intents of any change are often linked to a positive outcome for students’ learning (which ultimately is expected to be measured quantitatively), questions arise about the initial needs analysis, the efficacy, (both time and money spent) and enduring impact behind any such change. This makes these types of changes short-lived and often there is a quest for something else (another literacy strategy, teaching methodology, etc.) or the idea of change is simply abandoned after many episodes of trial and error and things revert back to where they were before.
On Transformational Change
Transformational change on the other hand is consensus-driven and is often holistic in nature, meaning that many strands of teaching and learning synergistically benefit from the leap. But it is also seldom as it requires active engagement and a certain level of professional risk taking, both a rarity in mainstream institutions where adhering to status quo seems to be the comfortable choice. These barriers, however, are endemic to individual institutions working in isolation.
A broad-based consensus brought about by a meaningful and effective discourse complemented by engagement of practitioners and leaders in professional communities facilitates transformational change in a much more effective way. What is identified or is proposed requiring change and transformation then becomes subject to scrutiny within the principles of critical collaborative inquiry driven by a constructive dialogue. OED provides a support framework for discourse, inquiry and actions needed to bring about transformational change where and when needed.
What to do?
Nothing is stopping us today to set precedence for times to come with our engagement and discursive approach to issues that we know are detrimental to a healthy education system. This is a serious responsibility we all share and need to take to heart especially in a centrally driven system with predilection for inertia. To do nothing and float along is to let our young down and forfeit their right to expand their knowledge base and to deepen their understanding.