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Learning Change Project

Archive for the ‘Educational system’ Category

Chaos Theory and the Sciences of Complexity: Foundations for Transforming Education

An understanding of chaos theory and the sciences of complexity is crucial to systemic transformation of our educational systems to better meet the rapidly changing needs of our children and communities. Helpful concepts include co-evolution, disequilibrium, positive feedback, perturbance, transformation, fractals, strange attractors, self-organization, and dynamic complexity. These concepts can help us to understand (a) when a system is ready for transformation, and (b) the system dynamics that are likely to influence individual changes we try to make and the effects of those changes. Furthermore, chaos theory and the sciences of complexity can help us to understand and improve the transformation process as a complex system that educational systems use to transform themselves. Strange attractors and leverage points are particularly important to help our educational systems to correct the dangerous evolutionary imbalance that currently exists.

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Schools and Complexity

In order for complex systems to change sustainably, agents at various levels of those systems must interact with each other, and control must be distributed in such a way as to “promote individual autonomy and enrich communication” amongst the systems’ various levels. The practical implication of this is that each school system implementing an effort at instructional improvement must establish and maintain a common direction while also allowing individual actors – principals, teachers, and other educators – to make decisions that are appropriate for them and their local constituencies.

As schools, districts, and the overall education system are complex entities, both the approaches taken to improve them and the methods used to study them must be similarly complex. Simple solutions imposed with no regard for schools’ or districts’ unique contexts hold little promise, while seemingly insignificant differences between those contexts affect in seemingly disproportionate ways the quality and success with which they implement the same programs. Context must be taken very much into account when initiatives are planned and implemented, as well as when their impacts are investigated.

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Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?

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Finnish Lessons is a first-hand, comprehensive account of how Finland built a world-class education system during the past three decades. The author, Pasi Sahlber,  traces the evolution of education policies in Finland and highlights how they differ from the United States and other industrialized countries. He shows how, rather than relying on competition, choice, and external testing of students, education reforms in Finland focus on professionalizing teachers’ work, developing instructional leadership in schools, and enhancing trust in teachers and schools. This book details the complexity of educational change and encourages educators and policymakers to develop effective solutions for their own districts and schools. It is now time to break down the ideology of exceptionalism in the United States and other Anglo-American nations, if we are to develop reforms that will truly inspire our students, especially those who struggle the most.

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Read also:

Finland’s Success Is No Miracle

Why Are Finland’s Schools Successful?

Kindergarten and Finnish Lessons

The Children Must Play

26 Amazing Facts About Finland’s Unorthodox Education System

The Finland Phenomenon

Read also some previous posts:

What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success

Finland – Slow and Steady Reform for Consistently High Results

Written by learningchange

April 2, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Goldman Sachs foray into Higher Education – A Predatory Pursuit of Students and Revenues

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Just as the subprime mortgage bubble was giving way to a bust that would help trigger a devastating financial crisis, Goldman Sachs, a firm that had been at the center of Wall Street’s rampant mortgage speculation, found its way to a new area of explosive growth: In claiming what would eventually become a 41 percent stake in Education Management Corp., Goldman secured itself a means of tapping into the boom in for-profit higher education. The federal government was boosting aid to college students nationwide, just as a declining economy prompted millions of Americans to seek refuge in higher education, leading to dramatically expanding enrollments at many institutions.

But unlike in the mortgage markets, where some unwise or unlucky investor got saddled with the bad loans after the festivities ended and home prices fell, this new market in higher education boasted seemingly unlimited growth potential at virtually zero risk. The burden of college loan repayment falls entirely on students’ backs, shielding corporations from the consequences of default. The colleges essentially receive all their revenues upfront, primarily through federal government loans and grants for tuition, regardless of whether students are able to gain employment and pay back their loans.

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Written by learningchange

October 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Desescolarizarse para aprender

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Estos últimos meses a lo largo de todo Chile ha quedado de manifiesto un generalizado descontento por parte de todos los actores sociales, quienes han salido innumerables veces a protestar y manifestarse exigiendo una educación de calidad, laica y gratuita. Pero seamos realistas ¿Para qué queremos una educación de calidad?, ¿Para ser domesticados con mayor calidad? Querámoslo o no, la educación siempre ha sido un arma de domesticación del Estado, es decir, siempre ha sido un medio por el cual una sociedad legitima y reproduce el modelo social imperante. Primero, hay que aclarar que no existe algo como “escuela pública”, lo que hay es escuela estatal. Y la escuela estatal tiene la finalidad de educar para su sistema. Es autoritaria, represora, memorista, discriminativa, individualista; es decir instruye y educa para construir un tipo de persona, la misma que necesita para mantener este sistema social caótico y deshumanizado; perpetuar el capitalismo, mantener las clases sociales y todas sus formas de represión.

Es así como surge la real necesidad de crear y construir nuestro propio espacio y nuestra propia enseñanza, desligándonos de toda institucionalidad y siendo un ente autónomo, el cual lleva por nombre “Escuelitas Libres”. Las escuelitas libres han existido y existirán en muchas partes del mundo, a lo largo de nuestro país existen muchos proyectos populares que siguen ese lineamiento. A diferencia de la educación tradicional, en las escuelitas libres se trata de crear un espacio de libertad, en donde las personas se vayan construyendo sobre los valores que nacen al ser uno. Ser consciente, comprender, crítico y obrar adecuadamente, este es su objetivo. Construir un mundo más humano y más libre por medio de vivir y aprender a vivir en libertad es su fin. Practicar la igualdad, la solidaridad, el apoyo mutuo, el respeto y la justicia; estos son sus hechos. Todo esto se intenta llevar a cabo sin que entre en juego la autoridad, los premios, los castigos o exámenes, donde se trabaja de forma vivencial y experimental, es decir, donde el aprendizaje se ve como un proceso colectivo y crítico.

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Written by learningchange

October 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Education: Our True Homeland Security

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Today’s students see education as a means to an end, the end being a respectable job with decent pay and benefits. And who can blame them? With the national unemployment rate at 9.1 percent (a percentage that doesn’t include part-timers seeking full-time employment and those unemployed who have simply given up looking for jobs), students are understandably worried about career prospects. Many college students are also worried about paying back their student loans; operating under such financial pressure, a focus on salary and the possibility of pay raises and promotions is hardly surprising.

How about stimulating and facilitating a lifelong pursuit of fresh ideas and innovative solutions to national and global challenges? There are, of course, sound and practical reasons for such a pursuit, such as maintaining our economic competitiveness. A critical and learned citizenry, after all, is the very foundation for an active, informed and humane democratic process: one that both celebrates and safeguards our constitutional rights and liberties. Homeland security, indeed.

Written by learningchange

September 12, 2011 at 8:50 am

All-round education for life – a “truly outstanding school” in one of the highest performing education systems in the world

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Hong Kong-China is one of the leading performers in the OECD PISA survey. It’s in the top 4 for reading, mathematics and science along with Shanghai-China, Korea and Finland, (while the UK’s results are in line with the OECD average – some way behind). I wanted to explore for myself what a high-performing school in Hong Kong is like. I was directed to St Paul’s Convent School in Causeway Bay which has achieved the highest value-added results in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination for the past 10 years and was described as “truly an outstanding school, excelling in all four domains of school work” in its Comprehensive Review report.

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Written by learningchange

June 30, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Youth in Revolt

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One great irony of the youth-led revolt in the Arab world is that the two shining successes, Tunisia and Egypt, were previously stellar examples of neoliberal policy.

Another factor in youth protest in the West, beyond the systemic lack of work, is the question of access to and quality of higher education. Coy writes, “In the most-developed nations, the job market has split between high-paying jobs that many workers aren’t qualified for and low-paying jobs that they can’t live on.” More funding and opportunities for higher education might address the gap, but government policy in Europe and North America points in the opposite direction. Political elites are imposing austerity and neoliberal reforms to make the young, like working people, pay for a crisis they did not cause. The rich get bailouts designed to rescue the value of stocks and bonds, and youth get much higher tuition fees for an education that is declining in quality as budget cuts take a bite.

Written by learningchange

June 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm

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