Those of us involved in counselling or in change management
will be familiar with the five stages of grief. These constitute the Kubler-Ross theory or model of change and adjustment. It is not uncommon to see people go through these stages as part of the grieving process following the death of another person. It is also recognised that people involved in organisations or companies can go through a similar process when the company is changed following, say, a takeover or a closure.
The five stages of the Kubler-Ross model
Denial, Anger, Bargaining (or negotiation), Despair (or Depression), and Acceptance
I bring this up here because it appears to me that many people and organisations involved in education technology, or ICT, in the UK have recently been going (or are still going) through this process.
This has been brought about, I feel certain, by the recent government announcement of the closure of Becta
, the early termination of BSF programmes and a lack of clear government policy toward the use of technology in education. This has led to many people being made redundant or, at the least, uncertain about their future, it has also led to many groups, schools and professionals feeling uncertain about their position and the continuing role of ICT in schools.
It is hardly surprising that many individuals will have been experiencing these stages of grief, or change, what may be less clear is how organisations may also be experiencing these stages as they try to reposition themselves for the future.
I shall not here go through a description of each of the stages but I feel it has been understandable how some people have at first expressed some disbelief at the decisions that have been made by the new government and also some anger. I feel the protests seen outside parliament on July 19th were conceived out of both disbelief and anger. Other groups have tried to approach the government minister to try to bargain or negotiate on their position, with very little success it would appear. Perhaps now we are at the stage of despair moving into acceptance.
It is important that we all, individuals and organisations, come to the point of acceptance, for it is only when we reach that point that we can start to move forward again.
Moving forward is what we really need to be doing at this time. It seems to ne that the new government has given us two issues to tackle;
Firstly, ICT in education is not important
Secondly that central government shall have no role to play in the decision making as to how schools use ICT, such decisions shall be made by schools themselves, parents their communities and ‘big’ society.
It is my belief that the first issue is NOT the one we should be addressing. The message that ICT is not important has been put across as a result of decisions to axe BSF (Building Schools for the Future), the lack of any ‘policy’ toward education technology (either before or since the election) and a rather ill-informed speech on education given by a minister. At worst this is just an inference of the government’s failure to understand the role and importance of ICT. People failing to understand the significance of ICT in education is something we have probably all had to face for years from colleagues and sceptics, while it is disappointing that the government has appeared to side with the sceptics, our task here is simply to continue with vigour the training and promoting of ICT that we have all been doing for so long.
It is the second issue that we need to address with more urgency and import. This government is set upon a course of reducing or removing the role of central government in many aspects of our lives and giving power to a more local level. In the case of education, this appears to be to schools and parents. For those of us in ICT and education ,this would appear to mean that instead of dealing, as had previously been the case, with central government via its agency, Becta, we shall have to deal with schools more directly. It may also mean that schools, who may previously have relied upon Becta or their Local Authority for support and guidance may have to become more self-reliant or rely upon each other.
I feel that there is a future need for structures or mechanisms of support and guidance to be put in place for schools in terms of ICT progression. Such structures would not just be for schools but also for parents, communities, education suppliers and individuals. I do not believe that they need to be rigid structures but flexible structures that can be utilised to meet the needs of schools etc. as and when required. I do not believe, therefore, that we need a new body to replace Becta, which may always have been too far distant from schools, but for new organisations or groups and new ways of working to be brought into play.
I do believe at the present that the organisation, NAACE, could be in the best position to start fulfilling some of those roles. Its membership not only includes local authority advisors but also independent ICT consultants, schools and teachers, it also has links within the industry and suppliers. There is certainly the knowledge and skills within the organisation to take on new roles if its constitution, budgets and membership decisions allow.
So we need not despair about the future, we should accept the situation and begin to build for the future.