Saeko Yoshida and Joe Williamson
This chapter begins with comparisons of ethos ratings from four of the schools. 'Ethos' is a word that has passed into the educational vocabulary in the last few years. It is a term hard to define and one even harder to pin down in any hard measurable sense because it is such a subjective phenomenon, a feeling, an impression, something visceral. But it is none the less real for all that because how we feel about our surroundings is powerful and deeply affects how we learn and whether or we are motivated to make the effort.
These judgements of ethos are made by both the Learning School students and the school students, in all cases showing some strong points of difference between the outside and inside perspective. Consistently LS students are more positive than school students in all schools and on all items, raising questions as to where the 'truth' lies, if indeed there is 'truth'. Are students by nature more critical of their own situation? Do they bring to their judgement an historical perspective? As senior students are they reflecting a view that they have grown out of school and desire a more adult environment?
We find, as in many self-evaluation projects, that toilets are a recurring theme. It can be a most significant indicator of school ethos, saying much about the priority given to this inescapable, and sometimes uncomfortable, facet of human life. There are some marked, and perhaps surprising, contrasts among the four schools.
These quantitative data are followed by a more qualitative picture from one of the schools. All of these different snapshots tell us as much about the students perhaps as they do about the school, but they do provoke questions about the place called school.
LS1 investigated school ethos in four of the five schools - Sweden, South Africa, Scotland and Japan. The process of our inquiry is illustrated in Figure 7.1.
The questionnaire was handed out to students in their fifth year of high school in October. The school profile shown in Figure 7.2 contrasts student opinions about their school with those of the LS1 team. There tends to be a fairly close