10 ways reinventing education is like renovating your home

By Peter West
September 1st, 2016

Why are we more realistic when renovating a house than we are with changing the way our schools work?

renovating education

Imagine that changing education to a blended paradigm is like renovating a large and much loved home that is more than 100 years old and contains lots of wonderful memories.

Would our expectations change?

The change from traditional teaching to blended learning is the biggest change in education for over one hundred years; it changes a core aspect of the way teachers teach. Make no mistake; this is not tinkering at the edges of education. If education was a house it would be a fundamental refit, from the foundations to the roof. (Note that I am talking about organization wide change, not just a few “lone innovators” operating independently in a school. That would be more like repainting a couple of rooms, in the hope that others would then follow suit, compared to a whole house renovation.)

Yet some expect that a whole house renovation like whole organization change can be done quickly and easily.

Change takes additional time, effort, resources, and planning. It usually requires extra money. It also usually involves disruption of day to day activities while the change is occurring. This is true in all facets of life. Why would changing an educational organization from traditional teaching to blended learning be any different?

Nobody would expect a house renovation to occur without the need for experts, a change to living conditions, a bit more mess, interruptions to daily life, finding some unexpected problems, etc. Instead, when making a large scale renovation to a large house we:

  1. Have one vision, instead of an idea of the week or every family member for his/her self.
  2. Plan the updated building (possibly with an architect, design specialist and color specialist).
  3. Hire specialists (plumbers, electricians, plasterers, bricklayers, kitchen experts, etc.)
  4. Expect interruptions to power, water supply, etc.
  5. Understand that there will be inconvenience, such as rooms that cannot be used on occasion, dust throughout the house, etc.
  6. Understand that projects often take longer than initially planned.
  7. Expect that living conditions will go backwards during the project, but that the long term results will be worth it.
  8. Are prepared to act in case some tradespeople are not able to produce the quality and standard of work required to complete the project successfully.
  9. Get a loan or dip into savings to pay for the renovations.
  10. Expect that tempers may get frayed on occasion.

Anyone who expects that “renovating” the fabric of teaching and learning to a new paradigm is going to be different to renovating a house is fooling themselves. Do not expect that it can be done quickly, easily and without expertise, expense and tension.

Next page: 10 things schools need to plan for

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