#39: Using Adaptive Change Methods to Revolutionize Education

Do you know the difference between technical change and adaptive change? Most change in schools involves technical change, like “dressing up” the current situation, but not really addressing the underlying issues. Adaptive change, as defined by Harvard’s Ron Heifetz, is changing culture, worldview, and self-worth. These are the changes that are the hardest to make and require a re-imagination of our culture and our basic roles. The message is that we need to stop “playing around the edges” and make changes that really get to the core.

The work of leadership is to constantly keep redefining the destination.

We know we are not doing the right thing in schools today, but people get defensive with anger, confusion, and uncertainty when their deeply-held beliefs are challenged. Doing the right thing in schools means more than adding a piece of technology here and a change in curriculum there. The goal is to go FROM a traditional teaching culture TO a modern learning culture. This is accomplished by letting go of tradition and our entrenched notions of learning, by being committed to rethinking and examining what we do, and by building an environment of inquiry. 

Resources mentioned in the episode:

The Human Side of School Change: Reform, Resistance, and the Real-Life Problems of Innovation by Robert Evans

The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World by Marty Linsky and Ronald Heifetz


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