I recently read Leading for Learning: How to Transform Schools into Learning Organizations by Phil Shlechty (2009).
This book, one of Schlechty's last works before death, provides an excellent discussion of the meaning of school and the ways schools can and should continue to have meaning in the future.
Some of my biggest takeaways:
> Transformation means altering the culture to match the aspirations; reform is about implementing innovations that fit the current structure and culture of the organization.
> Transformation requires doing things you’ve never done before, not just doing the things you’ve always done, but better.
> In the digital environment, the learner is increasingly in charge of both content and process.
> Influence is a function of who we are and what we do, not title or position.
> Continuous learning is required to live a full life, AND to avoid being overwhelmed by the future.
> LEARNING – it’s the core business of schools.
> Wise leaders learn to live on the cutting edge of ignorance, rather than the cutting edge of knowledge.
> Trust has no role in the bureaucratic ethos.
A few of my favorite quotes:
“Schools are about the future and posterity more than they are about the present and prosperity.”
“Organizations that are change adept—that is, organizations that can learn as well as encourage learning—will survive and thrive in this new world. Organizations that require stability, tranquility, and predictability will perish.”
“Bureaucracies are designed to organize and manage certainty and ensure predictability. Learning organizations are designed to create the type of leadership structures needed to deal with uncertainty in disciplined, productive, and creative ways—to transform problems into possibilities and perplexities into insight.”
“In a democracy, a customized educational experience should be the birthright of every child.”
“Learning organizations are driven by shared beliefs, values, and commitments. Bureaucracies are driven by rules.”
“Standardized testing requires standardized teaching and standardized content. When standardization replaces standards, it is not enough to say that students will read historical fiction; one must specify the fiction to be read.”
“Two of the gut-level values that Americans hold are the value of local control of education and the idea that schools should be central places in the life of the community. Both of these values are threatened by efforts to improve schools through the increasing use of standards promulgated by bureaucrats external to the local community—and through the transformation of schools from community institutions to government agencies.”
You can probably see why I’m a Schlechty fan…