About this time last year I wrote about two agendas that are driving change in our education system – these are the improvement agenda and the transformation agenda. In preparing for an online course I'm about to teach I put together the short video above that is an attempt to illustrate the relationship between these two agendas, and how they need be working together, not viewed as 'either-or'.

The critical thing, however, is the notion of the 'third place' as the aspiration or goal we must have for our work to re-define schools and schooling, otherwise we simply get caught in the trap of continuous improvement, which sees us doing more of the same, but better.

The 'third' place is where we will achieve the practices required to operate effectively in a modern learning environment, where professional practice is de-privatised and collaborative activity becomes the norm, and where schools cease to be completely autonomous, competitive units, and become a part of a network of provision.

2 Responses to “Improvement vs transformation”
  1. Derek, within a networked system, there are three (often four) different types of networked systems: a centralized network, a decentralized network, a distributed network and a fragmented network.  In a fragmented network you get spotted innovation.  A distributed network doesn't have a sense of what is going on in terms of innovation.  A centralized network is cumbersome with far too many places that slow down the innovation.  A decentralized network has the right amount of nodes and connecting places so that innovation can flourish throughout the network in a connected and sustained way.

  2. Hi Sharon – thanks for this comment Sharon – very helpful. I have considered using the term 'connected' in place of the 'networked' label for this very reason – perhaps I should do so. I'm very interested in the emergence of the notion of networked schooling that provides an impetus for collaboration and change among groups of hitherto autonomous, independent and competitive schools. This is where the notions of complexity theory and ideas of 'messiness' are important, as we're still seeing the emergence of the frameworks and ways of being that will define how such networks work. 

    in the NZ context the best example I can point to is the Virtual Learning Network (http://www.vln.school.nz) which began as a way of connecting individual schools and some clusters of schools as they sought to provide access to areas of the curriculum for their students. In the past ten years this has grown to become a significant and collaboratively functioning model, providing over 200 courses among more than 250 schools each year. The Ministry of Education has provided some supports and inputs (e.g. by way of a video conferencing bridge, and support for keeping the VLN website going) but is not involved in trying to formalise the way in which the collaboration and connectedness happens. 

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