“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
Yes, I did just quote Yoda! The quote above has been heard by millions and applied to many facets of life. Today, I am struck by how relevant this is to education. As more and more people begin to think about meaningful innovations in teaching and learning, it is important to deliberately think about the components that Yoda so wisely points out:
- Fear: When we start to work with districts and teachers around the country, the first thing we try to do is get a sense of who they are. Many share their excitement about putting together a comprehensive vision of what teaching and learning can look like in five years. What we really listen for, however, is what educators are worried about regarding innovation and the implementation of new ideas. Helping clients to address these fears is the critical part of our work. Fear is the number one reason that we see for resistance to change. Fear of failure. Fear that they lack the skills to do a vision justice. Fear of what others will think. Without purposeful development of effective communication structures and personal learning opportunities (for students, staff, and the wider community), fear will grow and fester, leading to…
- Anger: When people are fearful, they typically withdraw. When you continue to push on people who have withdrawn they get angry. Anger in educators comes from the fear, not because they don’t want to change, but because they are sick of not receiving the trust and support needed to be successful. Educators went into this business for kids, but we have spent years throwing initiative after initiative at them without the benefit of a larger vision or true strategic plan. When anger continues to grow, it leads to…
- Hate: Hate is a strong word! Educators don’t hate change. In fact, their whole existence has been about change. Change of students, leadership, learning environments, and yes, initiatives. This is where the hate is often targeted. A general hate for new initiatives because they have not been supported with vision, planning, end user input, skill and resource development, and proper incentive. This leads to…
- Suffering: Again, another strong word, but a condition we witness all too often. Children are suffering from an education system that is not broken, rather is less relevant to the needs of industry day by day. Educators are suffering because they are harnessed by shortsighted testing measures and a lack of autonomy to be responsible risk takers in their craft. Society is suffering because, although our best students are really good at school, industry is telling us that they have to commit an unreasonable amount of resources to train new employees in the personal and professional competencies that K-12 and higher education should be focusing on.
This is the path to the dark side of education. Were we become cynical and begin to burn out. Where closing our door and keeping innovation to ourselves is easier than true collaboration. Where the passion we had when we became educators has faded to a dimmer version of itself.
The dark side is quicker and often more seductive, but not more satisfying! Open your doors and begin the conversations with teammates, community members, and your leadership that will lead to greater understanding. Eliminate the fear people feel through skill and resource development as well as through intentional culture building and communication. Keep the Knoster Model of Complex Change Management in mind and let us know how we can help you and your organization. May the force be with you!