Effect Positive Social Change

Despite the fact that it is no longer and no better written than the previous sections, this is the bit that means the most to me… and this is the area I’d most like to focus on as I move forward in this field.

Again, if you like, please leave me feedback in the comments. Naturally, this is just a quote heavy DRAFT. :)

UPDATE: I’ve included the DRAFT conclusion of the breadth portion of this KAM below as well. I didn’t think it warranted it’s own post. :)

10. Effect Positive Social Change

Not only does school change not happen in isolation, but it is not an end in itself. Schools have been created to serve the greater good, and any school change initiative – even the adoption of new educational technologies such as video games and simulations – must also serve to better society. In essence, any effort to change a school for the better should be part of a greater effort to effect positive social change. Senge, Evans, and Fullan all supported the roll of school change as a forge for social change.

Senge et al. (2000) were interested in the moral dimensions of schooling. They acknowledged that “the primary goal of public schools is to educate children for the responsibilities of citizenship in a democracy” (p. 317). In addition they feel that educators should not only provide “access to knowledge,” but also “nurturing pedagogy” and “responsible stewardship of schools” (p. 280). They also resisted the trend toward standardized rote education, arguing that school is not meant merely for making people civic-minded, keeping kids off the streets, or even providing students with information; instead, they argued for a more constructivist approach of spending “ten years grappling with evidence, because so much of science is counterintuitive” (p. 559).

Evans (1996) advocated “an approach to change that emphasizes people’s need to find meaning in their life and work and the role of the school in providing that meaning” (p. xiii). He also believed that all teachers have at one time harbored “an urgent belief in the possibility of enormous social change” (p. 110), and he sought to tap into this as a motivation for school change.

Fullan, with his focus on the moral imperatives of school change, spent more time on this topic than Senge and Evans. He explained that “moral purpose means acting with the intention of making a positive difference in the lives of employees, customers, and society as a whole” (Fullan, 2001a, p. 3). Like Senge and Evans, Fullan (2001b) believed that “a strong public school system is necessary for a strong democracy, … [and that] the public system is weakening rather than getting stronger and that is a system problem, that is, a societal problem” (p. 212). He felt that “the best case for public education has always been that it is a common good” (Fullan, 2003b, p. 3). Furthermore, he suggested that “developing… capacity [for change in schools] means understanding the relationship between democracy and the public school system” (Fullan, 1999, p. 11). In keeping with his constructivist tendencies, he was concerned with “the unfinished legacy of John Dewey… [because] Dewey never addressed the problem of how… a public school system could develop let alone thrive in a society that it was to help make over” (Fullan, 1999, p. 10). Part of Fullan’s (1993) answer was that “individual moral purpose must be linked to a larger social good” (p. 38). Similarly, for Fullan, school change efforts “must be linked to a broader social, public purpose” (p. 11). Ultimately, he believed that “those engaged in education reform are those engaged in societal development” (Fullan, 1999, p. 84), , and that “the ultimate aim of education is to produce a learning society, indeed a learning globe” (Fullan, 1993, p. 135).

Fullan saw pragmatic benefits to this focus on social change. He considered the public “a third ally – in addition to policymakers and educators – not yet mobilized” (Fullan, 2003, p. 15). He also knew that “organizations must be actively plugged into their environments responding to and contributing to the issues of the day… [at least in part because] expectations and tensions in the environment contain the seeds of future development” (Fullan, 1993, p. 39). More importantly, he knew that “the reason that the twin forces of greater knowledge and greater moral commitment beyond individuals are related to sustainability is that they begin to improve the social/moral environment” (Fullan, 2003, p. 19). Perhaps most importantly, though, he wrote that “there is nothing more satisfying than seeing hordes of people engaged to do good together because of the leadership you helped produce” and he encouraged readers, writing “don’t give it another armchair thought” (Fullan, 2005, p. 104).

Those enterprising and risk-taking change agents who are already implementing video games and simulations as educational technologies are exemplifying Fullan’s ‘just do it’ philosophy, especially those who are a part of the serious games and games for change movement. As others attempt to replicate the success of these early adopters, they must keep in mind the moral purpose behind the changes they propose, and they must be sure they are introducing new technologies not for their own sake or for any other reason other than to effect positive change in society.


Based on he works of Senge, Evans, and Fullan, a working theory of school change has been presented in three sections: Facilitating Organizational Change, Overcoming Resistance to Organizational Change, and Integrating Organizational Change with Society. Within these three sections, ten principles of school change were presented. Five principles of school change related to Facilitating Organizational Change: respect the realities of change, use systems thinking, support personal learning, support collaborative learning, and develop leadership. Three more principles related to Overcoming Resistance to Organizational Change: respect the realities of resistance, remember psychological factors, and sustain the process. Finally, the last two principals related to Integrating School Organizational Change with Society: include family and community, and effect positive school change. These principles can, and should, be used to guide the process of integrating video games and simulations as educational technologies in a constructivist learning environment.

Even with these guiding principles to aid them, change agents will need to engage in an ongoing study of organizational change. What Senge et al. 1999 called “the dance of change” or “the inevitable interplay between growth processes and limiting processes” (p. 10) will continue to be a chaotic and unpredictable process. However, armed with these ten principles and a growing knowledge of the realities and complexities of change, change agents can help ensure that the future of educational change will include the use of systems thinking, a reduction in the fragmentation of curriculum, and a more productive “dialogue between parents, bureaucrats, administrators, teachers, students, and government leaders” (Senge et al., 1994, p. 491-192).

Evans cautions that “the education community needs to… get off the ‘moral hook of promising more than it can deliver’ and ‘increase public understanding of why the problems in schooling… are and will be so vexing’” if significant change is going to be possible and sustainable. Still, as Fullan, Hill, and Crevola (2006) wrote, “nothing, and we mean nothing, is more critical to the future of the world than rapidly and constantly improving systems of public schooling that serve all students” (p. 100). Change agents who want to play a roll in creating such a system must take the risk of putting these ten principles into action and then working to improve their understanding of change processes and to improve upon this preliminary theory of school change.