Change Theory: A Force for School Improvement

Michael Fullan, Website, Aug 03, 2007
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I was sceptical looking at Michael Fullan's web page - because without a blog, or RSS or anything more advanced than a book, one must wonder, what credibility does he have? And there it might have ended, except for the link to UK preread 2007 at the bottom of the page, which turns out to be well-informed and well-argued. I mean, this treatment of standards-based initiatuves is exactly right:
It assumes that, by aligning key components and driving them forward with lots of pressure and support, good things will happen, on a large scale. What is missing from the strategy is any notion about school or district culture. If theories of action do not include the harder questions - 'Under what conditions will continuous improvement happen?' and, correspondingly, 'How do we change cultures?' - they are bound to fail.

This doesn't mean I accept everything that follows. But what follows, at least, appears to be based on some understanding of how systems work, that "Shared vision and ownership is more an outcome of a quality process than it is a precondition," and that emphasizes capacity-building as much as anything else, where "Capacity building is defined as any strategy that increases the collective effectiveness of a group." More articles here; a nice weekend read. Via Lucy Gray.

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