I wrote recently about the strange feelings I went through when changing practice in a way that shouldn’t have been strange at all, and I’m still mulling this one over. I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that it is all to do with our educational values as teachers and the status quo bias.
The status quo bias is a cognitive bias for the status quo; in other words, people tend not to change an established behavior unless the incentive to change is compelling.
That is certainly something I recognise in my own practice, and I’m sure I’m not alone. So, what gives us this compelling incentive to change? This can obviously be many things…to save us time?…financial?…better results…?…better behaviour? But even then, sometimes these rewards simply aren’t enough to change our deeply ingrained practice as teachers. Which is where our educational values and beliefs step in. We will only make these perceived big leaps if we have a clear understanding of our educational values and a desire to bring our practice in line with these. You’ll see therefore why I like the following quote so much from James & McCormick (2009):
The tensions and dilemmas that teachers face and their struggles to bring their practice in line with their educational values, whilst coping with pressures from outside, were a strong feature of their learning in the classroom. Some appeared content with ‘going through the motions’ of trying out new practices but a small proportion (about 20%) ‘took them to heart’ and, with a strong sense of their own agency, tested and developed these ideas in their own classrooms in creative ways. The challenge for us was to find out what kinds of support within and beyond schools would allow the twenty per cent to grow to nearer one hundred per cent.
This, in many ways, is what my first module of the Chartered Teacher programme was all about way back in the first half of 2008…and I’m only really getting it properly now. This is why we need to stop rushing around looking for new ideas which we’ll never really embed properly, but take the time to examine our educational values and then develop our practice accordingly. Although it can feel like a waste of time in our ever busier lives, it’s crucial.
It’s the only thing that actually really works.