Keep What Works, Change What Doesn’t

Each week as I did my readings for ETEC 533 I found myself highlighting specific sections of text that really spoke to me as an educator. Reviewing them all this week a few really stood out and reminded me of why I found them powerful in the first place.

We align professional development, knowledge integration, and flexibly adaptive curricula to build on the commitments and talents of teachers as well as the constraints and opportunities of their classroom contexts rather than imposing new practices without concern for past successes (Linn, et al., 2003. p. 518)

The above quote from the article “Wise design for knowledge integration” by Linn, Clarke and Slotta (2003) was like a breath of fresh air. Having been an educator in Ontario for the past 26 years my colleagues (in school and in the MET program) often speak of the never-ending reinvention of the wheel in education. That for some reason change in education often means throwing away all that you have been doing, the good and the bad, and replacing it with something else. Unfortunately, it usually comes about that the changes were not all that great.

Linn et al., (2003) seem to understand this phenomenon and allow for past successes to continue to be used. All administrators in charge of professional development should have this quote as part of their mission statement. It is much more effective than “out with the old and in with the new”. Perhaps it could be shortened to “keep what works, fix/change what doesn’t.”


Linn, M., Clark, D., & Slotta, J. (2003). Wise design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87(4), 517-538.

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