Can Chip and Dan Heath Help Improve Your School?

In The Confident Teacher by Alex Quigley1 Comment


Elephants, riders and paths…just more management and consultant jargon surely? We have a class to teach – a department to run – a school to improve. Let’s leave all that nonsense to corporate team building weekends, where people get irretrievably lost finding their inner elephant – for a premium fee!

Only this book about change and organisational improvement might be different. Perhaps, if we put aside the cynicism, we might use the ideas of Chip and Dan Heath, and their book, Switch: When Change is Hard (available for only a few quid on Amazon), to help initiate and sustain transformative changes in our schools.

I have written about this book and the ideas of the Heath brothers before – well over a year ago. I am compelled to do so again, in this short post, because the ideas are so useful and so straight-forward that every teacher and school leader would benefit from knowing and using ideas to help guide systematic improvement in schools.

Rather than a garbled review of the ideas I will share the excellent summary doc provided by the Heath brothers on their useful website:


Even better than this image summary is the free booklet on  ‘Switch for Organizations‘ free on their website, but provided here for ease:

[button color=”blue” text=”white” url=”” window=”_blank”]View Switch to Organizations as a PDF[/button]

Don’t worry, I’m not being paid by the Heath brothers for an advertisement – I just believe that the book is that useful. It is full of helpful examples to spark your thinking about how it could apply to your classroom, your department/faculty or your school. That book isn’t about changing and making improvements in schools or education at all…which is a definite strength. It forces you to think creatively about how the exemplars, from improving transplant operations to cross-generational relationships in Tanzania, can apply to your situation and it forces you to dig for the the evidence in your school context.

Read the book, explore the website. Find a great set of ideas to help initiate and sustain improvement in your school.


  1. I also really liked this book, when I read it. However, I think overall, I’ve had more use from their first book, “Made to Stick” as useful guidance for planning learning experiences and outcomes for children and also for reflecting upon why we seem to remember our outdoor experiences disproportionately more than our time spent inside – and therefore bearing this in mind when teaching, and using the outdoors as a context for learning as much as possible.

    Perhaps too, I was struck by a book called “Influencers” which also provided a model for change in seemingly impossible situations, based upon two questions, “Can I do it?” (belief) and “Is it worth it?” (motivation) being addressed at personal, social and structural levels within an organisation.

    It nice to see other educators acknowledge Chip and Dan Heath’s wonderful work.Thank you.

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