Not by Schools Alone: Sharing Responsibility for America's Education Reform

By Sandra A. Waddock | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
System Dynamics of School Failure

In the last chapter, we explored some of the external pressures that schools are facing, some of which have caused significant problems for the educational process. In this chapter, we will explore the most significant obstacles to change as we look at the structure of schools as a systems dynamics problem. In education, the problems of poverty, class, race, economic opportunity, equality and equity, community, and workforce quality interact powerfully with the educational process, affecting deeply children and their performance in school. At the same time the external and internal pressures constitute a set of systems that schools are embedded within and create a dynamic process that results in their continuing actual or perceived failures. Senge has pointed out that problems like those that afflict education are insidious in their character, creeping up on society rather than making themselves known more immediately through a crisis. 1 This insidious character is difficult for human beings to contend with, according to Senge. People are more capable of dealing with catastrophes than with slow change or what in a previous chapter was termed the "slow-motion riot" that is affecting our schools today.

Senge proposes that the solution to insidious problems like the failing education system or those social problems that interact with the schools is necessarily a systems approach. In a systems approach, the interaction of structure and policies of the system can be understood so that the dynamic of failure can potentially be shifted to a dynamic of success. This chapter explores the system dynamics that have resulted in school

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Not by Schools Alone: Sharing Responsibility for America's Education Reform
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Note 5
  • Chapter 1 a Context of Change 7
  • Notes 24
  • Chapter 2: The Social Fabric of Education 29
  • Chapter 3 the Institutional Fabric of Education 49
  • Notes 73
  • Chapter 4 the Realities and Responsibilities of Education 77
  • Notes 93
  • Chapter 5 Not Alone: Outside in Thinking 95
  • Notes 111
  • Chapter 6 System Dynamics of School Failure 113
  • Notes 135
  • Chapter 7 Structure as Possibility 137
  • Chapter 8 Structure as Solution 161
  • Notes 175
  • Chapter 9 Networks and Schools 177
  • Notes 198
  • Chapter 10 Businesses and Other Employers Linked to Schools 199
  • Notes 215
  • Chapter 11 Conclusions 217
  • References 221
  • Index 231
  • About the Author 241
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