Windmills or windbreaks?

Someone of great wisdom once said;

“When a strong wind blows people can do one of two things: build windbreaks or set up windmills.”

The building of windbreaks suggests resistance to change and perhaps, occasionally, not all change is for the benefit of all people. The erection of windmills on the other hand could suggest being aware of change and using it for beneficial ends.

Our world today is characterised by change. It wasn’t that long ago ‘listening posts’ were a technological breakthrough in classrooms and presenting on ‘overhead transparencies’ was the big thing in oral presentations. There is constant change in schools and the purpose obviously is to keep up with the times and to make things better for all.

In schools, change is inevitable. We have constant external pressures (such as Government) to improve results and ensure quality teaching. Technology has also driven change in schools and has had an enormous impact. Classrooms also used to be closed rooms where learning occurred in isolation – now the whole school is our learning environment with breakout spaces, interactive libraries and wi-fi. Students interact with others using ipads, skype, twitter and the internet.

Yet, how we react to change in our schools is crucial. Are we windmill constructors or windbreak makers? From my experience, some community members find change particularly challenging, particularly if it is ‘tradition’ that has been embedded in the school. Making change for the benefit of the school has to be communicated well to parents and staff to ensure that the improvements we are making are not just for ‘change sake.’ Our reaction to change in our schools must be carefully considered.

In our daily lives we must make decisions constantly with and for our families. Which winds will we set up windbreaks against and which winds will we use to work for us by creating windmills of power? I wish I had the answers to all the questions, but like most I find myself asking more questions than I can answer.

I suppose that as teachers and parents we need to assess our reaction when “the strong wind blows” so we remain warm and life giving to the young people entrusted to our care and accept that change is a way of life.