Successful School Improvement: The Implementation Perspective and Beyond

By Michael G. Fullan | Go to book overview
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Critical Introduction


Opening remarks: on the pleasure of writing critical

Putting aside the time and labour required, it is usually a pleasure to write an introduction to a book. First of all, one normally writes them for books one likes, and for authors whose work one respects. The authors themselves, of course, are generally careful to make sure this is the case before asking, but you never know. With fellow specialists on school improvement as friends, sometimes you don't need enemies. This is especially the case with 'critical introductions' - like this one.

It is also a pleasure to write introductions because it allows the commentator to sift through a fellow specialist's work and to highlight as 'essential'the very themes he agrees with the most or on which his own work has centred. The reader will soon find me doing precisely this, when arguing that this book tells us several new things about the change process since the field was last reviewed comprehensively.

Finally, writing an introduction to this book will enable me to raise some questions which, in my opinion, are answered here in other ways than the ways I would have addressed them. Some of them are questions with which I will be taking issue with the author. But most are ones which no one has resolved completely when actually coming to grips with the implementation of significant instructional changes in schools, be it change on a one-shot or on a continuous basis. The pleasure here is less that of giving the impression that one knows more or better than the author - unless the critic actually believes this than of being able to pinpoint some interesting points without the burden of having to work them through. Introductions, after all, are just that, and the reader is impatient to get to the substance of the book itself.

With this list of pleasurable tasks, I have mapped the terrain for the remainder of this text. First, I shall try to put Michael Fullan's work in perspective and, from that vantage point, assess his contribution to our understanding


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