Posts Tagged ‘educational system’
For nearly half a century, research on education systems has been increasingly popular. However, this popularity was long restricted primarily to internationally linked policy makers and education planners, often backed up by international organizations such the OECD but also by governmental or para-governmental organizations within the individual countries. These institutional affiliations provided education research with a specific character that often centres on notions such as excellence, efficiency, or standards. The specific comparative character of this policy-driven research agenda triggered the development of suitable research techniques such as comparative statistics and pertinent sub-disciplines such as cognitive psychology. Backed-up by powerful global institutions, this agenda purported to be rather unique, and it tended to ignore the cultural complexity of the educational field and those research approaches that address this complexity. This volume includes different historical, cultural, and sociological approaches to the education systems and to questions as to how research on education systems can be undertaken beyond the parameters of the existing research agenda. They demonstrate how pertinent problems of research on education systems can only be tackled taking an international and interdisciplinary approach with regard to both research questions and methods concerning education systems.
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.
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.
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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