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Baby steps

Posted on: April 14, 2016

Whenever there is talk about change, be it piecemeal or systemic, someone will invariably say “we will need to take baby steps”.

Sometimes I poop in my diapers when I hear that.

I agree with that sentiment if the person means that we must move forward by trying, stumbling, and even falling. The system or parts of the system are going to get hurt, but it must change because that is progress.

However, I am also aware of at least two misconceptions of “baby steps”.

One is “there is no room for error”. We will take such mincing steps that they are not steps at all and people will grow impatient with the lack of progress. People who use “baby steps” in such contexts are afraid to do what real babies do and that is learn from mistakes.

Another misuse of this saying is a lack of understanding of how most babies learn to walk. This might come from those who do not have kids and/or were not around to see their child’s first steps.

When a baby starts to walk, it does so organically, suddenly, and when the baby is ready. In the lifetime of a child, the change from crawler to walker is a quick one. One moment it is crawling, in another it is walking, albeit like a drunkard.

The misconception here is that the visible change is slow. The evidence of change is counterintuitively swift. It is biological, cognitive, and perhaps social changes happening in and around the baby that are gradual. If a person is to use “baby steps”, then the lesson might be the multi-agency and cross-disciplinary changes that must happen in the background.

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11 Responses to "Baby steps"

CHAN Hsiao-yun 曾曉韻: @ashley My honest thought prev at least was that this is just a superficial change to placate stakeholders without #assessmentliteracy #edsg via


CHAN Hsiao-yun 曾曉韻: RT @ashley: @hsiao_yun Yeah. And this is what I think of baby steps if they’re not sincere. #edsg via


Dr Ashley Tan: @hsiao_yun Yep. Spouted by “poets” who don’t realise that evolution does not always result in fittest. It’s very random. #edsg via


Dr Ashley Tan: @hsiao_yun This also illustrates how piecemeal a change #PSLE2021 is. Not far-reaching enough to make bigger difference. #edsg via


Dr Ashley Tan: @hsiao_yun Critical as I am, I see a deeper, sincere attempt. But MOE also seems to be hedging its bets. #edsg via


CHAN Hsiao-yun 曾曉韻: @ashley A colleague liked to say “evolution not revolution”. Boo. #edsg via


Dr Ashley Tan: @hsiao_yun And we can thank our schooling and testing for shaping us that way, eh?😉 #edsg via


Dr Ashley Tan: @hsiao_yun If there was actual evolution, there’d be many strategies, not just one big safe bet. #edsg via


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