Schools Can’t Change.

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Change is hard.

That’s why I’m not interested.

When you work in a school there is always a lot of talk about changing things (by talk, I mean it rhymes with witching).  As educators we are faced with the choice of jumping on board with the latest fad or sticking with the tried and true method that we’ve used for the last 20 years.

For me it’s a no brainer.

If it was good enough when I was in school, it’s good enough for the students in 2009.What I Would Look Like If I Taught in the 1950's.

When the word change is even casually mentioned, it can provoke a strong reaction.

In some cases anger.

Luckily, the bad feelings are never directed towards administrators (for the last time… sarcasm is the lifeblood of this blog).

After much thought, I have chosen my final answer on change (I do love Regis Philbin but rest assured not in the same way I love Kelly…actually in the EXACT same way I love Kelly). 

I’m against it.

Don’t even think about trying to talk me out of it.

I don’t like change.


Because I don’t like it.

You need a reason?  I gave you one.  I don’t like it.

In my estimation, progress is way overrated.

Schools were good enough for my grandparents (if they attended… and some did… at least until the 6th grade), so they should be good enough for today’s students.

Progress is for the next generation.  It’s for the person who takes my job (I know you’re out there…).

As for me, I’m going to stick with what works.

I’m way too busy to worry about the latest fads.  My career is on borrowed time.  I just don’t see the point in making a lot of unnecessary changes because I’ve only got 20 years left until retirement (like I’m going to make it…).

I’m going to focus on the present.

In the next week or so I need to do the following:

Run off copies on the ditto machine.

Take a quick smoke break in the Teacher’s Lounge.

Use some corporal punishment on a student in the hallway because he was talking in study hall.

Finish a report on a typewriter (I hope I don’t make a mistake; I am all out of correction tape).

Hand write some memos.

Use the phone tree to contact teachers.

Drive students in my car without seatbelts.

Take some pictures for the yearbook and send the film off to be developed (I should be getting them back in a couple of weeks).

Write grades in my red spiral grade book.

Show a movie on the 16mm projector.

Or possibly a slide show (don’t forget to turn to the next slide when it beeps).

Finally, I need to not exercise (all the studies say it’s bad for you).

I think I’ve made my point.

Schools don’t need to change.  Things are just fine the way they are.

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29 Responses to “Schools Can’t Change.”

  1. Beth
    on Oct 10th, 2009
    @ 11:36 am

    Exactly! Finally someone with the voice of reason.

  2. Kelly Christopherson
    on Oct 10th, 2009
    @ 12:26 pm

    I’m with you all the way. No change is the way to go. It just creates hard feelings and, if we look at the last 50 years in American education, there has been no progress. Just read through all the dire-consequences studies that show that American education is still failing American children. It’s no use. Things can’t be changed. It’s time to accept that fact and agree to let things be – let sleeping dogs sleep. I’m all for having students handwrite their notes from blackboards, listen to the records of Macbeth – those BBC recordings are awesome – and have all teachers back in suits and dresses like it should be. I know that it’s tough to drill in the inkwell holes but it will be well worth the effort!

  3. Mark Dunk
    on Oct 10th, 2009
    @ 1:32 pm

    On Friday, I complained to our Instructional Technology Specialist about NASA TV being blocked in our district. Because of this, I missed the live coverage of the LCROSS mission to crash into the moon to look for water. I had wanted to share this current event with my physics students. The response I got was, “What did you expect? NASA TV is streaming media and streaming media is blocked because of bandwidth issues.” OK, not problem, I’ll just wait for the reports to be posted into my Google Reader via RSS. The posts came in pretty quickly, but all the video is posted to YouTube, which, of course, is blocked by the district because it is streaming media (plus there might be something “inappropriate” out there).

    So I guess the issue is that my district has changed and provided us with that new thing called the Internet. Just be careful how you use it; you don’t want to use it up or “break” it.

    One more observation. They could have at least drilled out those ink well holes in the desks big enough to accommodate a venti JamocaFrappaChaiDoubleshotEspressoCaramel latte.

  4. Krista
    on Oct 10th, 2009
    @ 2:59 pm

    I started reading this and I was ready to take you off my RSS reader. Then I got to the end and I am now thinking that maybe, just maybe, you are being sarcastic. I am hoping it is sarcasim. School may have been good enough for you and your grandparents but over the years, children have changed. Children are raised differently and they learn differently than back in the day and there needs to be change. I am a Junior in college and let me tell you, my time spent in school up until college was a complete waste. I did not learn anything after elementary school and I am having to make up for it now in college. I was one that slipped through the cracks and no one should just slip through the cracks. Anyway, I’m stepping off my soap box now.

  5. Amy
    on Oct 10th, 2009
    @ 4:15 pm

    Are you for real or did the other people miss your “REAL” point?

  6. Pat
    on Oct 11th, 2009
    @ 5:49 am

    Since I’m obviously older than you, I will run papers off on the mimeograph machine and then sit around and smell the ink off those papers when I’m done. LOL

  7. Kelli M
    on Oct 11th, 2009
    @ 6:47 am

    “You need a reason? I gave you one. I don’t like it.”
    LOL XD

    Tell me about it. I’m an English teacher and it is like pulling teeth to get some teachers to use any kind of technology. Young and old. Rich and poor. Teachers and Exec/Admin.

    Overall I find English teachers aren’t so bad though, as we study language use in a lot more film, media and multimedia texts these days, and this had led to more uptake and engagement with technology. We’ve had to change a lot, so we’re a bit used to that.

    And you’ll be pleased to hear that in NSW, Australia, the Dept of Education has recently lifted their ban on YouTube in schools. Teacher accounts can now access many invaluable teaching resources And we’re all getting leptops too! Not bad :)

    (Found you through a link in someone’s Tweet…I love this blog!
    RSSing you right now.)

  8. Tina
    on Oct 11th, 2009
    @ 7:46 am

    Yeah, I’m with you. The new flavor of the month change seems all great until they forget about it the next month. It always reappears again disguised as the next flavor of the month change.

    I want to use schooltube and teachertube, but get literally “no response” from our technology director. I used to be a technology director myself and tried to be progressive. But after 8 years of working for change and getting no where, I moved to a different school and went back in the classroom. It’s easier to let someone else fight for it. The teachers I met really didn’t want to change anyway.

  9. Dawn
    on Oct 12th, 2009
    @ 9:36 am

    Hey! We’re right with you here! Where I live there’s a real movement to ‘back to the basics’ program. The program is growing by leaps and bounds and the more school’s they open it seems the more parents there are that want it. The biggest argument is ‘well it worked well when I was a kid!’


    Drives me nuts.

  10. prof post
    on Oct 21st, 2009
    @ 12:41 pm

    Found your blog through Instructor magazine (one of my favorites) and want to give my students in Intro to Special Ed a crack at responding to your writing. Last week they reflected on whether merit pay would work for teachers – let’s see what they think of this (in their own creative and “next generation” ways.

  11. bill
    on Oct 25th, 2009
    @ 9:28 am

    Ready for a long comment? I bet you’re not.

    I posted sometime last year about how ELL/SPED students should be exited from their respective programs if they could pass driver’s ed.

    You remind me of the Mogambo Guru, or Dave Berry, when he used to be funny.

    Mogambo Guru:

    I’ve endured 18 credits of admin. studies in the last year, yes Marzano, Collins, Heifetz, Covey, DuFour, Glickman, Schmoker, yadda-yadda-yadda.

    Ain’t nothing ever gonna’ change unless community values change. As long as people would rather have a championship football team (which I think is nothing less than a public subsidized farm league for the NFL) than an investment in rigorous curriculum and aggressive, intensive systemic interventions, we will get what we get.

    There are ten high schools in my county and nobody is doing adaptive, transformational change except for one ladder climber who has decimated her school’s culture to the point of toxicity resulting in falling test scores, 75% faculty turnover and an absolute vacuum of trust.

    Nobody uses the Glickman model of supervision. Few use data to guide instruction. Policy wonks at the District, State and Federal level eschew labyrinthine directives which require hiring somebody just to figure out what the hell it all means.

    Here’s some change I can believe in:

    Issue national certification (not national boards) so teachers and Leaders can go wherever there are jobs.

    Eliminate CEUs as a standard for awarding credit so kids can go as fast as they want to: seat time is dead, everybody knows it, they just don’t want to do anything about it.

    Bring on merit pay! I will kick so much ass the first year, I will make as much as an Associate Principal with half the responsibility and time.

    My four cents (inflation).

  12. Sarah Lau
    on Oct 27th, 2009
    @ 5:55 pm

    First, I have to say, It was refreshing to hear this article, usually change is very much pushed. As you said before if it was good enough for my grandmother and grandfather, it is good enough for students today. On a second look, I understand the irritation with change and I wish this could be so. Why not go back to the one room school house idea. I would be up for that all the way. However, in our ever changing world, teachers have promised to help and teach students to be the best they can be an to prepare them for the future. So that means not exactly changing with the students but more or less changing with the technology. When things can be accomplished so much more efficiently by computer and powerpoint presentation. Why use a 16mm projector. As educators we have sworn to change our teaching around the student. so sadly, we can not live in our Utopia world of “No Change.” You can try but, success is measured by how much we grow and learn not by how much we use to know.

  13. Becky Norgard
    on Oct 28th, 2009
    @ 6:20 pm

    hm. While I do feel that if school was good enough for your grandparents and parents, it should be fine for today’s students, but like it or not the world is changing. Technology is becoming more and more a necessity in the schools today. Computers for example, I notice that my generations’ handwriting is no where near as neat as my parents or grandparents handwriting is. I really blame a lot of that on the computer. In school you are forced to type everything, writing less and less. Another skill that I lack is spelling. If I am not typing something on the computer I am always conscious about my spelling because if I’m on the computer, it doesn’t matter if I spell something wrong, I have spell check. While I think that it is important to teach children how to use the technology that is becoming a bigger and bigger part of today’s world, I do feel it is important to not forget the “basics” such as spelling and handwriting, and basic math skills, because as we all know technology doesn’t always work! So, I do feel that change is needed, but on a moderate level.

  14. Jami Stinson
    on Oct 30th, 2009
    @ 8:48 pm

    Well said! Older isn’t always better — and newer isn’t always better either. I’d like to see more discernment in what changes we welcome into our classrooms. Change is an inevitable part of our lives and though we don’t need to swing from one fad to another, we do need to be open to new ideas and technologies.

  15. Ashley Miedema
    on Oct 31st, 2009
    @ 7:52 am

    While teaching the exact same way as our parents and grandparents were taught is not the correct way to teach students, following along with the latest fads is not the best way to run schools either. Our parents learned how to do many things in school that students are no longer being taught. They learned how to do math without a calculator and write a paper without the help of spell-check on the computer. This current technology can be helpful, but it can also hurt students.

    As a college student, I feel as if I should have been taught how to do a few more things without technology. I have noticed that when I go grocery shopping with my mom, she can quickly figure out what brand would be the best buy. When I have to do this, it takes me a while to figure out the solution because I am used to using a calculator.

    I wish my teachers had forced me to learn how to do math in my head without a calculator. While I do believe that students should not be taught to depend on technology, I also believe that schools need to change a little and use the technology that we have in useful ways. Computers can make things a lot easier. Teachers don’t have to worry about running out of correction tape and they don’t have to record their students’ grades in a spiral grade book. These changes make life a little easier and save teachers some valuable time.

    Technology, such as the internet, also provides us with a lot of useful resources that can help us teach our students better. While teachers benefit from technology, sometimes students also learn better when using it. They were raised in a world full of technology and they have already been taught to depend on it. We should use this knowledge to teach them in a way that they understand while helping them learn how to do things on their own.

    As teachers, it is our job to teach students how to do well in life in the real world. Today this includes a lot of technology. If we continue to teach in the same way that past generations were taught, our students will not learn how to function in our ever changing world. While change can be over-encouraged at times, some change is necessary if we hope to teach our students anything that will be valuable to them after graduation.

  16. Allison Stoub
    on Nov 1st, 2009
    @ 10:58 am

    I agree with you completely. I am not that technology orientated and sometimes I struggle when teachers use all this technology stuff and have us use it for some of our assignments. I think that older is better. My one teacher uses all overhead projector notes and I love it. I also like when teachers write notes on the board instead of flying through powerpoint slides. I’m not sure I completely agree with all the old school things such as a projector to show a movie. I believe that a DVD or VCR is the better route on that. Our world today is changing and we can’t avoid it. That is the sad part that we all have to face as teachers and as students.

  17. Rosie Adkins
    on Nov 1st, 2009
    @ 12:43 pm

    My reasoning behind anything not changing is that people get comfortable. When I am comfortable with something it means that I am used to it, and know it very well. People just settle with what they know and sometimes they don’t wish to change anything. I am required to take a technology class, and I have heard from other students how hard it is going to be. What’s wrong with a regular marker board or chalk board? I don’t need a smart board in my classroom. As long as my students are learning and testing well, I don’t think technology should be a huge issue; and not to mention the costs of all this new technology!

  18. Dave Byma
    on Nov 1st, 2009
    @ 12:48 pm

    Change… it can be for better or worse. It just depends on how its used. Technology in the classroom can be very beneficial and can help students to understand and learn better. But the old ways of teaching can do the exact same thing. In one of my college classes my prof mixes up the different technologies that is used in the class. One day it will be power point. the next it will be the overhead and the next notes on the board. I like all three ways. It mixes it up so I dont get sick of one way being done over and over again. But technology can hinder the learning of students. Take power point for example, profs use power point a lot which I don’t mind but when they fly through the slides not giving us time to take any notes it can be frustrating and just turn me off to the lecture. For a video i would prefer a DVD over anything just because I think it’s easier to find the spot your looking for if you are looking for a certain spot for the class to watch. Technology can be helpful for teaching and learning or it can just hinder the students from learning to their full potential. It’s just how well you can use the technology you have for the students.

  19. Kevin Kenealy
    on Nov 1st, 2009
    @ 6:19 pm

    Love the sarcasm. Change is good. We need to embrace it in order to stay current in modern day society. Technology is changing every minute and to not incorporate it into the classroom would be detrimental to the teaching field. Kids who are growing up text messaging every minute and know the internet like the back of their hand aren’t interested in learning via 16 mm projectors or off chalkboards. We want something that we can interact with. This is the age of interaction and the more ways that today’s students have to learn, the better. They talk about incorporating different learning tools into our classrooms in the courses I’m taking. This means using TurningPoint to have students answer questions interactively off a overhead projector using a remote control. This means using the Internet to explore Web sites students have not ventured into to conduct research or learn about their assignments in a new, interactive way. The more ways we create environments for students to learn, the more they will retain what they learn. The days of chalkboards and 16 mm projectors are over because our kids our beyond them. I also think its funny that some people may take you seriously that you don’t believe in change when you’re writing this on a BLOG! HA!

  20. Rob Dominguez
    on Nov 2nd, 2009
    @ 12:20 pm

    Well I can easily see where you are coming from by saying if it worked for your grandparents, it will work for us. But isn’t our job as educators suppose to be to upgrade and advance our students to the best of our ability? The best way for them to grow as a person is to be fed the right information through the best way possible. Change can sometimes be bad, yes i understand this. But change is a gradual step, not a sudden leap. By working and slightly altering the ways we teach and the information we speak, students’ minds may be able to comprehend more and possibly without as much struggle. I respect your opinion to the highest but disagree. Constantly searching for better methods is the way to go in my eyes,

  21. Mellody Avila
    on Nov 2nd, 2009
    @ 1:57 pm

    Sarcasm– often misunderstood. I think you’re completely right. Many teachers dislike this new advancement to technology and disagree with change. They don’t seem to grasp the concept that our society and the children of this generation are surrounded with almost every different aspect of technology. I don’t understand how a teacher could expect children to learn without it. Even if the ‘technology’ that was being used was just a small media clip from youtube that they decide to show in class. Change scares people, but it is inevitable. Change can add to the classroom setting, and could make some projects and classroom activities a lot easier. Not saying that all change is good, but all change is definitely not bad.

  22. Steve Pellack
    on Nov 2nd, 2009
    @ 2:58 pm

    After reading this article I’m slightly confused. I got some of the sarcasm, but not all of it. Does this guy really not want to change at all? Each and every decade that goes by, things change and we as educators must change to keep up with our ever changing environment. I agree that not all things have to change though. Why should reading be taught by computers? The old fashion way of teaching reading and writing worked fine. Don’t change and confuse students. Teaching must be able to adjust and change as time goes on for the benefit of their students. Also change in our old ways can also help save time. Grading programs on the computer may take time to learn, but will save major time in the long run. Also some things that were appropriate back in the day (smoking in the teachers’ lounge) is no longer even thought of. Times are changing and teachers must change to be successful.

  23. Tom Clason
    on Nov 2nd, 2009
    @ 5:42 pm

    At first I was very confused with your article. Later the sarcasm hit me. Thanks for the change is hard comment, because it may be hard but change is always occurring. There is no stop to all the change that education is going through with the use of technology. Teachers need to be able to keep up with all the change to keep the students involved. I do think that teachers should be able to use older equipment for the classroom. The information that is on the internet may not always be as good as some information that a teacher has from years ago.

  24. Jessica Jager
    on Nov 2nd, 2009
    @ 7:01 pm

    When I first read your article, I have to admit that I was pretty frustrated. Change, or more specifically, advancing technology, is a good thing. I understand that this can mean more hard work, but it seems that this is what schooling has come to. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with the way that our parents and grandparents were taught, however, they do not live with many of the recourses that we have today. To be honest, I can’t even imagine having to live they way they did growing up. It is impressive that our parents never had computers to write long papers, or calculators to figure out problems, or even cell phones for easy connections, but I’m sure they felt the same way about their parents.

    That fact of the matter is that technology and advancements of any sort are always happening in today’s fast-pace society. To not incorporate some of these things in current teaching would hurt the development of children in today’s America. If a child doesn’t learn how to use a computer, they can basically say goodbye to getting a job in the future, because I’m not sure I can name any job where you won’t be using it in some way or another. I don’t know if I would say schools were “changing” as much as I might say that they are more “keeping up with society,” which is definitely beneficial to students.

    I can’t say that I love learning every new system or application, or that I am going to incorporate them all into my teaching, but they are important to know. For example, I never know what resources I am going to have access to when I am in my own classroom, but I believe that using the resources available is good and beneficial, as hard as it may be. Although I don’t agree with your stance, I appreciate hearing what you have to say and being able to see a different side of the spectrum.

  25. Ashley Wheeler
    on Nov 2nd, 2009
    @ 9:11 pm

    When I read your article, I began thinking about how I grew up, how my parents grew up and then began thinking about the students at the school where I am teacher’s aiding at. Our world has changed drastically since the time that my parents were growing up and I was growing up. They did not have things such as laptops, the internet, cell phones, computer games. These things were either not as advanced as they are today, or they did not exist. These things were not used at home, let alone in the classroom. I would have to admit that some of my thinking is well, it worked when I was growing up. This is not the right mentality. Our world is changing and we should take full advantage of the new technology we have.
    As I was reading your article, it made me a little upset to believe that people think that change does not exist. I have begun teacher’s aiding at a school that has made a lot of changes in the past couple of years. Some of the stuff they have in their classrooms would have never been allowed in my classroom growing up. For example, once a week a teacher comes in with 21 computers and for an hour each child is allowed to work on his/her computer. If you ask me, that is a big change. They are giving their students the opportunity to become more familiar with the computer. Also, the teacher has a smartboard in the room. This school is very up to date on the latest technology improvements. I think that we also do need to remember that there are places that are changing and they are not so stubborn to only thinking one way.

  26. Abby Suarez
    on Nov 2nd, 2009
    @ 10:37 pm

    I learned in my education class last semester that school will implement change, but three years later; what they were trying to do is thrown out and the school tries something new before the school can really see if what they were originally trying was effective. So I can understand how change in schools can be so irritating and dreaded. I do think that change can be good, but it has to be change that teachers, administration, and parents agree on. If any of these groups does not like the change in the school the change is not going to work.

  27. Ashley Wierema
    on Nov 2nd, 2009
    @ 10:57 pm

    When reading your article I thought that you had a really good point that it is so hard to have changes or to even see them be made in the classroom. I feel like when I was younger and in school that it never changed and that it was just the same thing everyday but since teacher aiding I found that so many things have changed in the classroom since i was in elementary school. For one thing they don’t do grade A through F anymore or even just the check plus or check minus. In my classroom they do E, S+, S-, and N now and i found that to be a weird change. Also I can’t beileve how much technology is involved in the classrooms today with the amount of time spent with computers.
    In my own view I feel like things do need to change though. Things that might have worked for my grandparents or even for me but I feel like we live in a whole different world since then. I feel the world is so much more fast pace and that things need to be learned and easier from when I was a child.
    I do feel like if schools will be changing that it will make it harder for those who are going to college to become teachers. I feel like things i knew and did in school won’t be used so i sometimes feel like i am going into a school blind and have no idea where to start teaching students because I don’t know the knew teaching methods yet.

  28. Jamie King
    on Nov 2nd, 2009
    @ 11:00 pm

    I believe that we need to find a happy medium when it comes to sticking to our routines or trying new things. I agree with the author when he states that our education system has done extremely well and that because of this there is no real reason to change it. He is right, my grandparents went to school and were successful, so did my parents, and so on. So why fix something that is not broken. Yet on the other hand, times are changing. Our society is much different than it has ever been. Our economy works runs alot different than what is previously has. So by educating our students the same way we did 20 years ago, are we really preparing them for life in the 21st century? I think that there are methods of teaching that will always work and will never become outdated, and we should stick with those. But at the same time, we need to adapt to our environment to be the most successful, and if that means changing our ways a little, then so be it.

  29. Erika Huizenga
    on Nov 3rd, 2009
    @ 10:52 am

    Personally, I love change. I love doing something that is not the typical routine. It gets me excited and enthusiastic. On the other hand, it is a let down when the change was more for the worst than the best. Instead of just not even trying to change education and school, the best thing is to have an open mind about change. I know you said you don’t like change and it’s true, not everyone does like it as much as I do. You do not have to try all the new ideas in a classroom but if you read or hear about any that sound interesting, try them out. Sticking to the old way can be good sometimes but society is getting more advanced and we can’t keep pulling out the projector and transparencies to teach students.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.