|Shaking Up the School
House: How to Support and Sustain Educational Innovation by
Phillip C. Schlechty
This book says a lot that makes sense to me. Schlechty's primary argument, here and in Inventing Better Schools, is that the product of schools is work, the customers are students, and the "sale" is a success if students engage in the work, persist through difficulties, get enough satisfaction or even enjoyment from it to enable a subsequent sale of more work, and gain from the work the knowledge and skills that the community wants students to have! (That last phrase is crucial for those who think talk of student satisfaction and enjoyment leads to engaging, fun activities with zero academic content.)
Schlechty makes these fundamental points in Inventing Better Schools. In Shaking Up the Schoolhouse, however, he looks at why it is difficult for schools, and, indeed, school systems to CHANGE in ways that allow this to happen. He notes that school systems are not "change adept" and suggests that educational leaders (superintendents and school boards) often mistake "change projects" or "change programs" for "change-adept organizations". (Citing Rosabeth Moss Kanter at p. 41.) Change projects are short-term, specific, and aimed at a particular problem. Change programs are interrelated sets of change projects designed to have a major cumulative impact on the organization. Change adept organizations:
What's really interesting to me is to compare Schlechty's "change adept organizations" to the examples in Surfing the Edge of Chaos of organizations successfully "surfing" the demands of adaptive change.
Schlechty proposes that by "Working on the Work", teachers can create and sell work that will help students achieve at the levels new "standards-based" systems are seeking. And it is ONLY when teachers are "working on the work" that this can happen. Schelchty notes that this requires a change in teachers' conception of their roles:
Schlechty outlines a framework for WOW (Working On the Work). To me, this whole approach fits very well with both the techniques for surfing the edge of chaos outlined above and the concept of Lesson Study. WOW would provide an approach for teachers struggling to improve lessons in their Lesson Study sessions. It helps teachers move into the role of instructional leaders. Schlechty writes:
Dr. Schlechty is President of the Center for Leadership in School Reform, www.clsr.org.