Simply, educational reforms have failed over and over again, around the world because of one reason: The individuals affected by the reform efforts did not understand the MEANING & RELEVANCE of the reform. They might adopt and embrace the reform itself – but if they do not comprehend the essence and the accompanying implication of the reform, the efforts fail.
Most reform efforts start off with an idea – sort of a theory set in place to solve an educational issue needing immediate attention and resolution. Thus, any reform starts off with an idea that is tested for its practicality – idea and action go side by side in the initial stage of a reform. However, as time passes, the initial combination of idea and action is substituted with the singular idea. This is reinforced and perpetuated by the virtue of schools institutionalizing the idea and safeguarding its purity – they become rigid in their perception toward the idea and move away from their initial focus of school improvement.
Most teacher training programs lack one important component in their course – a sense of meaning and relevance for the theories and ideas being taught and learned. Thus, a fresh graduate might know that a school reform is inevitable… however, the same individual does not know how to make it work – they don’t realize that for an educational reform to be accepted and worked at by everyone at school, the first thing to do is to create a sense of meaning and relevance toward the change. This could be accomplished by passionately advocating the idea and supporting it with the necessary actions that support, uphold, and expand the idea.
So next time you want to talk about reform for your own school, answer this question first: Why do you think you need the reform in the first place? Next ask yourself – “Am I willing to use both ideas and actions to make the reform a possibility?” Lastly, ask youself – “Do the statement of meaning/relevance match the ideas and actions set in motion to improve the school?”