Countering Reform Resistance

By David R. Halpern

School leaders can get inspiration and useful advice from many unlikely sources, some of which may be far afield from the classroom and the boardroom. I recently found such inspiration in a 2006 piece, “Twenty-Eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-Level Counterinsurgency.”

The article, which ran in the publication Military Review, described the difficulty of operational units in Iraq and Afghanistan in dealing with the local insurgency.

The author, Australian Army Lt. Col. David Kilcullen, reflects that “there are no universal answers, and insurgents are among the most adaptive opponents you will ever face. Countering them will demand every ounce of your intellect. But be comforted: you are not the first to feel this way. There are tactical fundamentals you can apply to link the theory with the techniques and procedures you already know.”

I have read and re-read this article many times because it may help schools make the necessary reforms to improve instructional practices.

I am not implying that teachers and other school personnel are fighting an insurgency against school change. But I also know that change is difficult. We resist it because it is not comfortable. Resistance to change grows until it can feel like an insurgency. So how can this article on military tactics help the school improvement movement?

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