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Teachers are worried when it comes to adopting new changes and prefer to remain in the old way of doing things. They feel as if they do not have the necessary skills or resources for adopting new changes. However, change is of utmost importance to the learning institutions as it is to other organizations. For change to be initiated in education systems, change agents must be aware of the resistance they are likely to encounter. The change initiator (educational administrator) should be able to recognize and establish the forms of resistance that are likely to affect the implication of change in the public school. This paper will explore on some of the barriers that hinder the implementation of change in schools.
Karen (2000) in his article “The emerging dynamics of change: Resistance, Readiness, and Momentum”, observed that, resistance is one of the greatest barriers to educational change. According to him, individuals do not resist change, but the circumstances surrounding the change force them appear as if they are resisting. For instance, the organization structure may pose some obstacles that make it hard for people to adopt the change being proposed. Other factors such as compensation system and appraisal can also motivate or de-motivate people in accepting change. This shows that, resistance to change is not an individual’s choice but it is influenced by the organizational system. Resistance to change is also influenced by the change agent’s perspective, for instance, if the change agent perceives that women are likely to resist change, and then it may appear that, women workers will actually resist adopting the change.
Karen also observes that, people resist change because of the loss of benefits associated with that change. For instance, people fear to lose their job positions, pay, and working conditions. The education sector is believed to be a comfortable profession and people fear that if they accept change, their comfort will be interfered with because of increased workload, or even change of location. To fight against this barrier, the education administrator initiating the change must give all the necessary details concerning the change that is its benefits, what it entails, and why it should be implemented before expecting the teachers to respond positively towards the proposed change (Karen, 2000).
Readiness for Change
Another barrier to educational change and one that seems to be emerging in many institutions is the readiness for change. Many institutions do not have the capacity or the ability to make changes. In most cases, even the individuals concerned perceive that a change is not needed. If change is to be accepted in such an environment, the organizational system has to be modified to incorporate the change needed and all parties involved have to be enlightened on the importance of the change and how it will be beneficial to them as well as or other parties concerned for example parents and students.
All systems have to be put in place and the necessary resources provided. Individual’s readiness to change is also influenced by the perceptions, beliefs, and values held by the agents of change. If these agents hold negative perceptions towards the change in question, it may be very hard to implement it. A change agent has to be proactive and be ready to positively influence the attitudes, behaviour, and beliefs of the participants. At times it becomes easy to implement a change but monitoring it becomes a problem. Not many managers are able to keep the same pace as when they were implementing the change and they loss track along the way. The failure to monitor a change is more or less like failing to adopt it. In many educational systems, changes are adopted because they are mandated by the top management but monitoring these changes becomes a problem.
Change is just a simple process that involves replacing old practices or procedures with new ones. Change occurs in virtually all organization and it can be influenced by technology. It involves adopting new practices and discarding old ones for a better tomorrow. However, not all people realize the need of change; some see it as a burden imposed on them while others feel that they do not have what it takes to adopt the proposed changes. This is a problem that is evident in the education sector; teachers are expected to adopt new changes but are not provided with the necessary resources or equipped with the necessary training to help them manage the change (Jager, 2001).
The first step in ensuring that change is successfully adopted is to create awareness to both the public and the educational community. It is the responsibility of the government and educational administrators to initiate change and orient the parties concerned if sustainable development is to be achieved. Many people understand that, education plays a great role in the implementation of national policies; however, this can not be achieved if they are not given proper reorientation to help them achieve sustainable growth (Henson, 1987).
Fear is another barrier that has been hindering the implementation of change in the education sector. Many teachers are reluctant to replace their old practices with new ones because they fear to face the challenges that may be posed by the new practices. They prefer to hold unto the familiar rather than adopt the new ones which they know very little about (Jager, 2001). There are others who fear to fail and they would rather remain with the old practices and way of doing things rather than adopt others which they are not sure of how they operate and whether they will be able to keep up with them.
Rarely do we see, teachers being asked what they think is good for promoting education and what should be discarded. They are simply asked to adopt new changes without being asked whether they will be effective. Others fear to ask questions and simply agree to what they are being asked to do. Teachers are in the best position to evaluate what to replace with what because they know what works best in promoting success. They can rely on past success to determine which changes need to be adopted (Keller, 2010). However, this is not the case in education, few are the times when teachers’ perspective is put in place when designing new changes. These changes come from the executive instead of being ignited from below. Many teachers are not willing to adopt change because they have very little understanding concerning the proposed changes, and do not see their applicability.
With the advancement in technology, change seems inevitable. Many are the times when changes are proposed not because they are important but because the world is changing. With new books and magazines being published every now and then, people feel that, there is need to change but they are not certain which direction to change to. This creates controversies to the agents of change as well as the teachers. They are left wondering which change to adopt because they seem to be so many with each receiving support from a specific group of people (Fullan & Stiegelbaver, 1991).
This is what has been happening in the education system especially now that every thing is done online. Some people propose the use of on-line learning while others hold that the disadvantages associated with on-line learning are more than the advantages. Also, if on-line learning is adopted, some employees in the education system will lose their jobs while others will require to be trained again, this is not only expensive but also time consuming. Such changes are normally ignored although they may be important in the future.
Presently, there is evidence of a wide range of innovative teaching and learning practices in the education sector. The world is changing drastically and there have been much advancement in technology. To accommodate this advancement, teachers need to replace their old practices with new ones that will guarantee success and ensure that, the education sector does not lag behind the other organizations. However, these changes have received many obstacles in their implementation, the leading one being resistance to change.
For the implementation of change to be effective, the education administrators must recognize the forms of resistance that exist so that they may look for ways of countering it. Resistance may either be from the change agents who hold negative perspective about the teachers or the teachers themselves. It may be caused by ignorance, fear, lack of resources, or even lack of necessary skills. This said, the education system has failed in establishing a route that supports the sharing, implementation, and monitoring of these practices to motivate and aid other teachers.
Fullan, M. & Stiegelbaver, S. (1991). The new meaning of educational change. School Effectiveness and school improvement, Vol. 2, No. 4, pp336-343.
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Henson, K.T. (1987). Strategies for overcoming barriers to Educational change. Web.
Jager, D. P. (2001). Resistance to change: A new view of an old. Which is the bigger problem- change or resistance to change? Organizations but, managed wisely, change need not be frightening. The futurist.
Karen, J. (2000). The emerging dynamics of change: Resistance, Readiness, and Momentum. Human Resource planning.
Keller, H. (2010). Breaking down barriers. Web.