Susan Riley | October 2013

We Can Learn So Much from Kids About Change

Change is a process, right?  We’re told this as if it will make the emotions that come along with this verb seem like a natural element.  But how much change and what kind of change is actually process-based?  How much of it is truly change focused on moving from one idea to the next without a centralized context?

Why do we make change so difficult?

Kids love to change.  The common perception is that kids can only handle so much change – and that’s true to a degree.  It’s never a good idea to just change things up for children without a purpose that has been communicated.   However, children have the capacity to thrive on the evolution of thinking, learning, moving, ideas, and paradigms.  This is what makes the world interesting to them.  So many times we say that we are seeing students “engaged” in their work and use this as a measuring stick to the value of a lesson or initiative.  But it isn’t always the strategies that we are witnessing which is causing this energy.  Many times, it’s because change is tangible in what these students are learning.

Children embrace this kind of change.  They want to build their maps of learning and understanding – it’s why video games are so compelling.  No two levels are the same.  You are constantly on a search for creativity and the clues that surround it to solve the problem.

When do we lose this excitement for change?  When does it become a process that we must suffer through to get to the other side?  Instead, change can be something we look forward to and seek out in order to grow and flourish.  And yes, there is a process to change, but it’s not simply a pathway to get you to the finish line.  The change is happening through the process, not because of the process.

It’s time to get our discovery groove back.  Get out there and watch your kids play.  Play a video game or strategy game with them.  Design a lesson that is all about changing the rules to encourage collaboration, critical thinking and analysis.  Be inspired by watching what happens if you let go and give the learning over to the student.  Soon, you’ll find yourself beginning to seek out these opportunities in your own life.  And that’s when the real changes can begin.

About the Author

Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, STEAM, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education. Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter. Email Susan