How do we embrace change if we can’t control it?

Last night we began our class by looking at student comments on the Google docs we created on Class Norms and on Permission questions. Students also took a few minutes to comment and reflect upon the readings from last week. This was helpful because it allowed Professor Hatch to address student questions and concerns about both the readings and our new and evolving class structure.

In group work, the students created three categories – essential, useful, and unnecessary – to organize their ideas about what the ideal really school needs. We wondered – does a school need a building? Does it need teachers? Click here to read about a new school in Paris, which has no teachers.

2013-09-18 20.35.10

What is essential? What is useful? What is unnecessary?

Next, Professor Hatch told us about his recent trip to Turkey, where he attended the European Association for International Education Conference. Below you will find a short video from class, which focuses in on the following question: How can we embrace change if we can’t control it?  Please watch the excerpt and leave your own comment either on the Vialogues site (which is part of EdLab here at TC), or in the comment section below.

Click on the image to watch the video.

Click on the image to watch the video.

11 responses to “How do we embrace change if we can’t control it?

  1. I love that the new school in Paris will offer young adults hands-on training in how to use computers and technology, and that it will reinforce and encourage the students’ development of problem solving skills. Young adults need both of these skills to make it in today’s working world. That said, I think it is important to note that this school is for students ages 18 – 30. They already have some level of maturity. It would be interesting to know more about the admissions criteria at 42, the school in Paris. Could a school model like this that gives students so much independence to learn on their own work for high school students, or middle school, or elementary?

  2. The example of the school in Paris has raised in me more questions about what a teacher and student means, which were some of the discussions that were held last Wednesday. As I read about the school I felt that there was a power relationship embedded in it, therefore, the school might not have teachers, but there are still some power relationships (either by the cut off cognitive exams, by the owner, or by the market), that would be difficult to take out from schools. I am wondering if taking out power relations from school would ever be possible, or just manageable in “better” ways?

  3. These are fascinating (and related) questions of independence and power: how can students learn “independently” if they are not yet “responsible”? How can students be “responsible” without being subject to what someone else has defined for them? And how can we, as school designers, develop a school in which we facilitate rather than control learning?

  4. I found the article about the school 42 very interesting. Yet I would have chosen another title. I agree with Aldo that it is hard to say that there is no teachers, something, probably power, is still strongly present. I did some more research about this school and there is still a strong control of the student’s work by, here, a machine (maybe the machine is the teacher?). Nonetheless, I found the ideology behind the structure of this school fascinating. It is a mix of human capital theory with educational justice, which led me to raise many questions, as I never imagined these two theories could be mixed. I am from France, and I always felt that the educational system is truly human capital oriented at the expense of educational Justice. It is actually the political/economical agenda of the school since the years 2000: forming a strong and competitive elite (but with the inevitable outcome of reproducing social classes). The school 42 is such a rupture with our school culture. Does it have to be “private” to offer such a rupture with the educational system?

  5. Valentina Gabrielli

    Very interesting and innovative idea. I am interested in this philosophy in regards to student engagement and motivation. What is the students purpose? What are the “higher-ups” expecting? The process to get into this school shows the students’ determination to solve problems and perhaps is enough proof to show their future success in life. It appears this school provides opportunities for interactions – with a purpose in mind. However, through education I seek to build social interaction, interpersonal relationships, and a community, which this school seems to lack. There is no teachers, but someone in power is providing the students with the information and problematics they want solved. Whose knowledge is being taught? Whose problems are these students solving?

  6. While I welcome the fact that entry requirements to 42 is based on various cognitive skills tests that analyze the way participants think, rather than “education level or social status,” I find the idea of having only a virtual teacher somewhat unnerving. I enjoy having the option to seek out a professor during office hours where I can either discuss something I did not understand in class or receive feedback/critique on an assignment, or, even just to chat. I believe this is an integral part of the learning process — a computer can only provide so much. It lacks the personal attention a professor can provide in or outside the classroom.
    The psychology of learning includes classical conditioning, operant conditioning, reinforcement, and observational learning. While the virtual classroom can provide the first four environments, observational learning is something that is honed only by, I believe, human interaction. This will of course be provided during the project (or masterpiece) that students of 42 will collaborate on but it is also the guidance from a professor or respect a student has for a professor knowing that s/he has had the academic or real life experience, that adds to the “observational learning.”
    It is encouraging to see how 42 provides a different view on what learning can look like in our advanced technological age but while a huge part of me wants to embrace this change and advancement, another part of me wants to hold on to some of the benefits an “old school” learning environment can provide.

  7. [Video comment] I think Professor Hatch summed up my post pretty well when he said, “How do we invent new schools when all we know are old schools?” To that I would most respectfully reply, “How do we change mindsets that have been so long steeped in traditions and habits?” That is something that I struggle with every time I see or learn of a new initiative or school reform – I find myself asking, “Are we really making things better or are we just making things worse by opening another can of worms?” I think Professor Hatch talked about this in our first class – that change is subjective and that when we keep trying to change something, we end up not changing anything.
    Would definitely love to see how this discussion pans out in class tomorrow!

  8. In response to the video, I think that the notion of control resonates with the article we read this week, where Professor Hatch discusses the inevitable difficulties when multiple perspectives come together to inform school change. It is difficult for one person or organization to relinquish control for the sake of something bigger. Not only do ideologies around schooling and education differ, but also the paths in how to create or allow for change to occur. It is difficult to embrace change when the outcome is unknown, the same way it is difficult for teachers to relinquish control or learning in the classroom to students especially in a traditional school culture that is measured on particular outcomes. Once control is gone, the outcomes are no longer as clearly defined, however might they prove to be greater than expected in many cases?

  9. In thinking about how to embrace change when we can’t control it, I have two different mindsets. One is that change is inevitable, so we are kind of just along for the ride, but on the other hand, people’s actions are the catalysts for a lot of changes. So while we may not control change, we can influence how changes develop. Connecting this to the article about theories of action, I think it makes sense to spend a lot of time understanding your deep-rooted beliefs about the problems in education and trying to understand the beliefs of your partners and opponents. Maybe if you are the one trying to instigate a change and you go through this process of understanding thoroughly, you might be able to navigate the change process better because you can anticipate how other views might influence the change process.

  10. Lindsay and Valentina raise similar questions about the expected outcomes of 42 that get me thinking about how this model may fill a need that more traditional schools do not. The article opens with the fact that 42 has received over 60,000 applicants. What do potential students hope to gain in this classroom? Are they just students who are disenchanted with—or unsuccessful in—normal schools? Or are they hoping that this kind of school will function as something different that will help them to be successful in the work force?

    Though I am excited by the possibility that school may be evolving, and that more students may catch a ride on France’s “social elevator,” I wonder just how many disadvantaged students will actually have the opportunity to attend 42. The first hurdle of the application is to pass on online test measuring “cognitive skills.” But how many potential students does this leave out? This initial test seems to advantage the privileged by requiring that the test be taken online (eliminating those without regular internet access) and by testing “cognitive skills,” most of which are learned in school settings (knocking out kids who were less successful in those environments).

    When building new models of school from the ground up, how can we create what’s really needed instead of replicating what’s already been done?

  11. Brittany DeGrazia

    In response to the video and Lindsay’s comment posted above, I also find a strong connection between Professor Hatch’s discussion and the readings for this week. I left the readings almost questioning the benefits of collaborative work when attempting reform or change. Though I personally believe that multiple perspectives should be considered as to ensure that there are “balanced” ideas, I find it so intriguing that the very differences that brought the groups together were some of the same aspects that drove a wedge between them. This response is more of an opportunity to comment rather than find an answer for me because I walk away still believing that various viewpoints, reflection, and acceptance all need to be considered when attempting reform; however, I was equally concerned as to how this can be truly instilled within the reformers.

    One of last week’s readings discussed that in order to change, “really change,” one’s beliefs must be altered in some way. The parallel that I connected with is the troubles that were discussed in Hatch’s work highlights a truth to the difficulty in changing one’s beliefs. Above, Riley also commented on this difficult notion. I really connected with her suggestion that maybe in order to initiate and succeed with change, there is a necessary process of truly understanding from where our “deep-rooted beliefs” originate and then practicing questioning the assumptions and/or practices that follow.

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