Successful School Improvement: The Implementation Perspective and Beyond

By Michael G. Fullan | Go to book overview

6: Beyond Implementation:
Teacher Development and
Educational Reform*

The implementation perspective with its spotlight on practice and its disposition towards action and improvement pushes us deeper toward more basic problems and solutions. We have come to realize the futility of implementing one innovation at a time, even serious ones. Ten yean ago we 'studied innovations'; today we are 'doing reform'. There has been a shift from passivity to action, and from narrowness to comprehensiveness of solutions. We may know more, but we are also taking on more.

In the course of this development, the concept implementation has revealed its own limitations. The very term connotes 'something to be put in practice'. It focuses on the object of change thereby detaching it in artificial ways from people and their ongoing circumstances. It has a bias implying that innovations are externally introduced. Beyond implementation alters the lens from innovations per se to the day-to-day actions of individuals in organizational settings. There has been a move from implementation to individual and institutional development. The latter is more basic - second-order change into today's jargon (Cuban 1988). In individual and institutional development, how people and organizations cope with the daily demands of maintenance and change becomes the anchor point. Beyond implementation leads us to consider more holistic, and organic questions of how individuals and organizations can become better equipped to manage multiple changes as normal fare. Here success is not whether a given innovation is implemented, but whether the basic capacity to deal with change has developed.

One of the pivotal questions in this new perspective beyond implementation is how the profession of teaching develops. I see two countervailing forces. One I have called 'intensification;' the other 'restructuring'. Relative to the former:

*Parts of this chapter are adapted from Fullan (1991).

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