Sunday, May 01, 2005

There is no master plan!

Jackson Pollack - expressionist painter. Posted by Hello

In this fast changing world there is no grand plan held by the technocrats in Wellington, as much as they would like to think so!

All this certainty was put to rest by Darwin and his theory of evolution. Life evolves and it is impossible to predict what will eventuate. This applies to the universe as much as it own lives.

This provides real challenges for individuals and organizations.

The best thing is to work out where you want to go, and then to cope with whatever happens. As far as organizations (including schools) go, the ideal is to clarify a shared purpose, vision, or sense of direction that all buy into. As important is to agree to a set of shared values, interpreted as behaviors, to use as a moral compass to base decisions on. Whatever is agreed to, it must equally encourage diversity and creativity of all members to ensure evolutionary ideas are introduced to ensure growth and survival.

A few quotes:

‘We must build curriculums on messy authentic tasks.’ Grant Wiggens.

So out with all those detailed pre plans.

‘Curriculum guides must be more like a compass and a sextant than an itinerary.’ G Wiggens.

We need problems that cause students to …conduct inquiry, fashion agreement, and develop quality products.’ John Dewey 1916

I like the quality products – sometimes schools introduce all the inquiry skills and produce little of quality! Higher order thinking for thin learning!

There is a temptation to assume presenting subject mater in its perfect form to prove a royal road to learning.’ John Dewey 1933

Tell that to the curriculum developers!

The young should be given the chance to solve problems, to conjecture, to quarrel, as these are done at the heart of every discipline.’ Jerome Bruner 1966

As Michael Apple says, ‘There is no grand plan!’

By all means expose students to a full range of experiences. You never know which will attract an individual learner. But as Robert Hutchins aid, ‘You can tell a good teacher by the number of important things they decline to teach'.

At Leading and Learning we have always believed in teachers doing fewer things well and that in depth discovery and personal creative expression are equally valuable.


Anonymous said...

Schools have wasted a lot of time the last few years devising curriculum delivery plans that they have no time to implement.

Bruce Hammonds said...

Couldn't agree more! But it is not the school's fault - it is the expectations laid on them.

Anonymous said...

Surely there are enough principals with the insight and courage to do the sensible thing? Are they all sheep?

Bruce Hammonds said...

Tempted to answer baaaa! but it seems they have lost the art of flocking - working together would give them mutual strength as long as individuality was still valued.

There needs to be localised networks established but not under direct Ministry control . Such networks could make use of retired principals perhaps, or respected principals could take turns?

Anonymous said...

Making 'grand plans' is what people do in Ivory Towers. Then they drop them on schools, shrink wrapped, via contracts, to implement.
What we want are grand dreams to inspire us but I guess there are no policy analysts trained for this. Too much planning and not enough imagination from Wellington.

Anonymous said...

Technocrats, or managers, follow plans; pawns in some 'grand plan' they have had no say in forming. They keep busy, complying, measuring, and graphing as they go. All to prove to their masters they have achieved set objectives, or targets.

Creative teachers 'evolve' curriculums with their students to inspire learning. And, as one of your quotes said, they are, 'known for what they won't do'!

They are leaders, inventing their own paths to the future.

Great quotes! Also love the quotes on your website.

Bruce Hammonds said...

Somehow we have to develop the means for creative schools and teachers to work together for the common good.

Actually some way of school working together locally ( while still retaining their individuality) is an antidote to both isolationism and the 'one size fits all' top down directives.