Moving Forward by Going Back: Not Changing but Innovating

According to the well-known American educator John Dewey (1859-1952): “if we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow”. There are (very) few educators in the world today who would (strongly) disagree with that statement, and yet we still struggle and resist change. Why? One set of important reasons is the differences between ‘Change’ and ‘Innovation’. We will, therefore, begin this talk by looking at some of those important distinctions.

We will then look at why people – all of us – resist change, as a normal and natural, ancient and hardwired response, especially when changes are imposed upon us. Research has shown that teachers can be impressively effective at ‘faking forced change’, by which I mean teachers pretending to change, while not really doing so, except at the superficial level, when they have not been involved in the decision-making change process.

In the present global political and socioeconomic climate, Dewey’s 1916 book, Democracy and Education: An introduction to the philosophy of education, is still remarkably relevant, more than a century after it was first published. Re-visiting Dewey’s work on education, and the centuries-old work of other educators in other countries, is an example of ‘Moving Forward by Going Back’. The talk will also include proposals for re-introducing concepts and subjects such as Critical Thinking back into education, as the daily international news is ripe with examples of people who appear to have lost that ability (if they ever had it) which must be a central core of education in times of change.

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Posted by IAFOR