Changing school cultures
CHRISTINE FINNAN AND HENRY M. LEVIN
Through the important work of educational change researchers, exemplified by Barry MacDonald (1986), Peter Posch (1996) and others (e. g. Cuban 1984; Evans 1996; Fullan and Hargreaves 1996), the ‘black box’ of what happens in schools when innovations are implemented and school change occurs (or doesn't occur) has been opened. One of the discoveries within this ‘black box’ is that schools have a culture. In this chapter we attempt to explain how different conceptualizations of school culture influence our understanding of how and why schools change. We suggest that action research as well as other deep processes of inquiry by members of school communities lead to systematic reflection and understanding of school practices and serve as an impetus to change. Action research processes make participants more aware of the fact that their school has a culture, and give them the tools to change the culture to improve student learning.
School culture describes both the sameness and the uniqueness of each school. When one enters almost any school one is struck by how familiar it is. There is something about the place that just says ‘school’ – a place to provide a site for teaching and learning – that is palpable. Most schools share a similar design for classrooms and common areas, organize the day in predictable ways and develop recognizable patterns for relationships among the students and adults. Despite these similarities, it is easy to recognize the differences and
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Publication information: Book title: Images of Educational Change. Contributors: Herbert Altrichter - Editor, John Elliott - Editor. Publisher: Open University Press. Place of publication: Philadelphia. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 87.
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