The Psychodynamics of Educational Change

  • Chris James
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE, volume 23)


Educational change can take many forms. It may be equivalent to or an extension of something familiar, may restore expertise in an aspect of practice long forgotten, and may add skills and experience without a sense of loss. Radical educational change may be fundamental, requiring a substantial reorientation of practice or the way practice is organised. However, such a change may not be particularly disruptive to any sense of well-being because it is appropriate, required and timely. So, although the change may break important attachments to ways of working and expose relatively trivial habits and expectations, it may at the same time launch a new and exciting enterprise or endeavour. Moreover, whilst the change may generate great anxiety and apprehension, there is no powerful sense of loss; the change may even be experienced as revitalising and energising. Even if the hoped-for expectations do not materialise and the venture does not succeed, the accustomed sense of self-limitation has been broken. Not all educational change is experienced so positively. When the change is unwelcome, involves the loss of important attachments that cannot be restored and does not have an acceptable purpose, there may be considerable mental disturbance resulting from internal conflicts and the loss of meaning (Marris, 1974). The experience of educational change may therefore be complicated, and making sense of it can be extremely problematic. This chapter makes sense of some of these complexities in the sometimes disturbing experience of educational change.


Primary Task External World Defensive Behaviour Organisational Practice Social Defence 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BathBathEngland

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