Tool: School culture, the
purposes of schooling and induction
Purpose of the tool:
This tool was designed to stimulate thinking about the purposes of schooling, aiming to build
a school culture devoted to student and teacher learning.
This exercise can create spirited
discourse about what your school's vision can and should become. Complete the exercise below, thinking deeply about schooling. Then
begin looking for instances that support or refute what you believe.
How to use this tool:
Ask faculty and staff to complete the same exercise. Engage a high
school student or volunteer to compile the data. That might give
you the goods for a powerful faculty meeting and a good way to bring
beginning teachers on board.
Weigh and rate the purposes
of schooling. Feel free to add to the list. Spend a few silent minutes
in self-talk. Push yourself to give examples.
adults in your community join this conversation. When trust has been built,
include aspects of the school culture that you do not admire.
So what are schools for anyway?
We live in a very complicated world!
The challenges associated with building leadership and fostering the development
of a professional learning community have never been greater! Has
anyone ever asked you the big question, “So what are schools for
anyway?” How would you answer?
Weigh each of the following (Plug
in the other functions as they occur to you). Then rank order them in terms of their importance:
- Academic outcomes
- Personal responsibility
- Social responsibility
- Social justice
Academic outcomes. Of
course, given the Information Age, it has become impossible to know all
that is needed to function effectively in contemporary society. Students must learn how to use multiple sources of information—and
determine their credibility. When academic outcomes are perceived
as a priority, knowledge is viewed as liberating and people who acquire
it begin to see with their own eyes and judge for themselves.
Personal responsibility. Specific
remedies for student behavioral problems are conditional at best. Schools that are developing personal responsibility as a goal encourage
students to become active participants in a community of learning and to
assume responsibility for their own learning.
Social responsibility. When
social responsibility is identified as a priority, attention is given to
the creation of open, safe and active environments. Priority
is given to assuring that all members of the learning community are treated
fairly and equitably in areas of conduct and student achievement. Schools with social responsibility as a priority focus on collaboration
rather than competition.
Social justice. When
attention is given to social justice, fairness and equity are
evident in student behavior and achievement. Members of the learning
community go out of their way to carry out the democratic process. The school functions as an open society, and students are encouraged to
be active participants in governance and due process initiatives.
Reference: Schwab, J.J. (1978). The practical: A language
for curriculum. In Westbury, I., & Wilkof, N.J. (Eds.) Science,
curriculum, and liberal education. Chicago: University
of Chicago Press.