Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Change and Beliefs

Have you ever changed an old habit or way of doing something? If so, then you may have experienced a conversion or gestalt shift in your beliefs system. Beliefs are founded on core values created early in life and are often developed from personal experiences (Nespor, 1987). Some researchers claim most students have a strong belief system before they enter college. This perspective has its challenges. Imagine yourself a teacher trying to change a child's behavior. Does it happen over night? How often must the child be reminded? What rationale was given for changing the behavior? What obstacles lie in the way of change? When will the changed behavior become a permanent way of acting?

I don't have the answers for you but as you can see an instructor at the college level has their work cut out for them if they are going to shift a person's beliefs about anything. It is a person's beliefs that lie behind their actions; therefore, to change a person must challenge their core values to alter their behavior. This kind of classroom work with rising educators takes patience, perseverance, and dedication to the profession. Teacher change is at the root of creating organizational change in America's school systems. Fullan (2001) talks about teachers being change agents and to encounter real change schools must challenge the core values connected to the purpose of education.

Are you up for the challenge? Have you thought about your own personal core values that relate to educating children in today's schools? Is it time you ask yourself why you do what you do and if it is in the best interest of those you serve. Personal and vicarious experiences have shaped one's values making it difficult to question one's behaviors. This is not an easy task to undertake but it is one that America's schools will need to embrace if educational institutions are going to meet the needs of learners.

I'll end with a quote from Albert Einstein that speaks to the critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity students must engage in if they are to be successful in the 21st century. Who would have thought that a man born in 1879 could have such foresight. "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand."