School change: Are we suffering from the “Normalcy Bias?”

by Steve Wyckoff on April 25, 2010

There seems to be a denial among educators that we are in imminant danger of public education becoming irrelevant.This coupled with the financial crisis we are currently enduring has created a perplexing situation surrounding school change. I’ve written before that I believe educational leaders would rather fail conventionally, rather than succeed unconventionally.

However, I was listening to a webcast today and the topic of, “normalcy bias” was part of the discussion. I went to Wikipedia to see the definition of normalcy bias, and here it is;

The normalcy bias refers to an extreme mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and also its possible effects. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred that it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation

This may explain the inability of educational leaders to adopt school  change strategies that would both reduce expenses and at the same time improve education. Food for thought. – Steve Wyckoff

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