Leading Change - Steve Barkley

Leading Change

I was able to attend two sessions that Andy Hargreaves presented at the recent IB Africa, Europe, and Middle East Conference in The Hague. Hargreaves identified


five important interrelated focus points drawn from his book “The Global Fourth Way: The Quest for Educational Excellence”:

Inspiration: there needs to be a shared vision/dream for the future… what do we want to accomplish?

Improvement: doing the things we are doing now….better.

Innovation: developing new teaching and learning options through and beyond new technologies.

Inquiry: real-time investigation, constantly exploring the successes and failures as innovations are taking place.

Inclusion: an ethical climate of acceptance for improvement and achievement to benefit ALL students.

In a second session Hargreaves led the participants in examining two views about what changes may or may not occur in schools. He discussed Clayton Christensen’s views that ignored innovation often displaces the currently successful models. Will schools as we know them become extinct? Hargreaves then presented a view shared by Larry Cuban that today’s technologies will not change the existing schools more than innovations of the past. Society’s focus on school as a custodial center for students will hold the existing school model.


After time for small group conversation, the participants were forced to select one of the two views they thought most likely to happen.  There was a pretty even split among the educators. Hargreaves then had representatives from each view present their thinking. The first speaker was from a cyber- charter school in California. Can you guess her view? She startled many as she presented how her program approaches education.  I found it interesting that she was attending an IB conference. What future possibilities are you imagining?

OK… time to declare. How would you vote it if you were there with me? Christensen’s view or Cuban’s?

I went with Christensen. I have been around education now for 40 years and I have seen many innovations have no impact on changing schools. However, watching my two year old grandson, I believe he will not accept a school that doesn’t change… one that does not offer him the control of his learning that he is accustomed to.

Hargreaves offered three suggestions to educators leading change:

#1 Be sure to have some doubters or resisters on your team. This may slow progress down at the beginning but will pay off later.  It’s important to hear those voices. Later they can be “key influentials” with others.

#2 Voice your own doubts and questions concerning the promise of success from the innovations. Hearing your own sense of inquiry can bring comfort to members of your staff who are unsure.

#3 When possible, experiment with the innovation. Start small and gather the data/results that encourage continuation or modification.

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