One of the scariest things that comes with change is rationalizing the past. Everyone has an ego, and quite often we have to reason with our ego, so we don't crumble.
Here's what I mean.
If you've done something like teach or parent in a certain way for a very long time, it may be a very difficult thing to admit that perhaps you've been doing things wrong - or at least not as good as you thought you were. For every year of experience, your ego will take this more and more personally.
Inevitably, many of us then become defensive. Like a wounded animal whose been cornered by a fierce predator, we bunker down and resolve ourselves to a kind of pre-historic, fight or flight mentality.
Some like Seth Godin call this the lizard brain while others still like Steven Pressfield call it the resistance.
The resistance is the voice in the back of our head telling us to back off, be careful, go slow, compromise... The lizard is a physical part of your brain, the pre-historic lump near the brain stem that is responsible for fear and rage and reproductive drive...the lizard hates change and achievement and risk...The amygdala isn't going away. Your lizard brain is here to stay, and your job is to figure out how to quiet it and ignore it.
When we are challenged by others to change something we do or believe in, the lizard brain barks. And if that something is near and dear to us, like our parenting practices or teaching pedagogy - the resistance can be fierce.
Don't get me wrong, the lizard brain brain's fight or flight mentality can sometimes be a very good thing. In his book Confessions of a Public Speaker, Scott Berkun writes:
Even if you could completely shut off these fear-response systems.. it would be a bad idea for two reasons. First, having the old parts of our brains in control of our fear responses is a good thing. If a legion of escaped half-lion, half-ninja warriors were to fall through the ceiling and surround you - with the sole mission of converting your fine flesh into thin sandwich-ready slices - do you want the burden of consciously deciding how fast to increase your heart, or which muscles to fire first to get your legs moving so you can run away? Your conscious mind cannot work fast enough to do these things in the small amount of time you'd have to survive. It's good that fear responses are controlled by the subconscious parts of your minds, since those are the only parts with fast enough wires to do anything useful when real danger happens.
The lizard brain serves a purpose when we are in big-time trouble; however, for the most part, our lives are pretty darn safe, and quite often, the lizard brain ends up holding us back.
Rather than seeing change as an indictment on what you've done in the past, see change as an opportunity to do today what others won't, so tomorrow you can accomplish what others can't.
As a parent or teacher, my ego takes pride in the fact that I am always doing my best with the information I have today. If I gain some kind of new information that rattles my cage, and throws my parenting or pedagogy for a loop, then I have to ask myself, Am I ignoring this information at my own peril? at my daughter's peril? at my students' peril?
Look, not all change is good. Change for the sake of change is no better than tradition for the sake of tradition. Change may seem scary. But blindly following the status quo that has no relationship with reality may be even scarier.
Always be mindful of change and tradition. And if the lizard brain barks, be conscious of it - unless there are ninjas threatening your very existence, it's presence needs to be tamed.