Conference Theme: “Educating for Change”
Whether we are looking at why we must change, or how education has changed or even how education will change, change affects all of us involved in language education in many ways. Administrators, teacher trainers, teachers, students: we all wear many hats and we all come face-to-face with change, sometimes on a daily basis. Positive change is about improvement: improving proficiency, improving lives, helping learners achieve their goals and dreams and ultimately, broadening horizons.
In our work as educators we are often asked to effect change – that we are change-makers can be seen in the new curriculums, new material, and even new techniques or methods that we develop. For those of us who conduct research, our research is often focused on finding “better” or more effective ways of teaching often measured in outcomes such as students entered with an average of X and improved to an average of Y. In such a case, improvement = change! But change is also an area of research as can be seen by looking at journals such as the Journal of Educational Change, Changes in Higher Education, Culture and Change, and Educational Research for Social Change, to mention four. It is a serious area of study, and one worth our attention.
The focus of the last journal mentioned above is worth looking at. Change is not only about test scores or proficiency going up. It is also about lasting change in one’s life, life choices, and looking beyond us as individuals to the society we live in. Social change and a focus on improving the societies we live in is another outcome of education. In recent years, there has been a focus on language and identity, as well as an embrace of sociocultural theory and language development.
At the same time change for the sake of change is not a good reason for change. There is often a tension between the status quo (which is not always bad) and the desire to change. As invested members of our field, we need to be able to examine change, identifying and applying that which is appropriate and will further our goals while also having the wisdom and gumption to reject change that does not make sense. As Dewey said, “Reforms which rest simply upon the enactment of law, or the threatening of certain penalties, or upon changes in mechanical or outward arrangements are transitory and futile.”
And so we welcome you to this year’s conferences, where we can examine change in ways that are important to each of us. What are its challenges, its complexities, and its constraints? It is electrifying to think about the wide-ranging conversations we will have as we consider how we can go about educating for change the world over.