Been There: Why Nothing Really Changes in Schools | Alden Blodget | 8 Min Read

October 17, 2023

Another workshop. Another late afternoon, the light fading as the enthusiasm and energy of the presenter grow. An unsettling whiff of change floats in the air — new ideas about learning and teaching, new programs, new ways to think about motivation and engagement. The presenter feels wariness begin to stir in her audience. She can almost read their minds: “This sounds like too much work.” “Here we go again.” “I have been doing it my way for years, and it works fine.” “If it ain’t broke….” And so she offers the inevitable reassurance: “Don’t worry. I’m sure most of you already do this.” The death sentence. 

The most effective weapon in an arsenal meant to intercept and destroy new ideas before they land in our schools. It’s a formidable arsenal, filled with time-honed strategies: There’s the gag order — people new to a school must remain silent for at least three years, regardless of how many years of experience they bring from other schools or how perceptive their new, young perspective might be. There’s the benign banter — there-goes-old Joe-or-Mary again, the jocular dismissal of repeated suggestions from anyone who has been around for more than…

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Alden Blodget

Veteran teacher and administrator Alden S. "Denny" Blodget is the author of "Learning, Schooling and the Brain: New Research vs. Old Assumptions." He also helped create the Annenberg Foundation's Neuroscience & the Classroom. He is the editor for, a free online resource focusing on issues affecting young people and the adults who work with them.