If schools are going to be transformed to meet the needs of early adolescents, curriculum and assessment reform are only part of the puzzle. Ultimately, the only curriculum and assessment that count are the ones experienced by the student—the curriculum and assessment in use. How do teachers and students transform resources, timetables and ideas into teaching and learning? As we, and many other writers, have mentioned, changing grouping patterns, school organization or curriculum outcomes is unlikely to have any major positive impact on classrooms or students unless there are changes in how teachers teach as well (Leithwood et al, 1988; Slavin, 1987c; Epstein, 1990).
Teaching, like all other human endeavors, is not static. The process for shaping the next generation is evolving, along with the society as a whole. The nature and role of teaching are inextricably tied to the expectations that we have for our students, to our understanding of the way that humans learn and to our beliefs about how adults, particularly teachers, can guide young people in their learning. We have already discussed many of the increased demands on our society and its young people. As a number of authors have told us very eloquently—schools of the future are going to have to bear little resemblance to those of the past (Schlechty, 1990; Fullan, 1993) and teachers will have to teach very differently (McLaughlin and Talbert, 1993). This may be hard to accept when little in our basic school structures has changed for a century or more. Nevertheless, the forces of change impacting upon our schools seem to be reaching a critical mass and schools, like countries and corporations, are finally beginning to contemplate fundamental restructuring. At least part of the impetus for school reform comes from a recognition that the modernistic model of specialization and standardization that has been rejected in other organizations and workplaces is also being questioned in education. It is no longer sufficient for schools to provide students with basic skills. In addition to the foundation skills of literacy and numeracy, students generally, not just a few, will need to attain more sophisticated skills like complex, critical thinking, novel problemsolving, weighing alternatives, making informed judgments, developing flexible identities, working independently and in groups and discerning appropriate courses of action in ambiguous situations (Earl and Cousins, 1995; Peterson and Knapp, 1993). The challenge for schools is to capitalize on new teaching methods and learning environments that are built upon what we now know