Choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform

At some stage in the last week I was pointed to this report/paper from Michael Fullan titled “Choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform”. The argument is that the large-scale reforms of K-12 education being undertaken in both the USA and Australia are destined to fail because they have adopted exactly the wrong drivers to encourage system-wide reform that actually improves learning outcomes for all students.

Fullan positions the following as the correct drivers/questions about attempts at whole system reform. The question is, does the attempt at reform

  • foster intrinsic motivation of teachers and students;
  • engage educators and students in continuous improvement of instruction and learning;
  • inspire collective or team work; and
  • affect all teachers and students – 100 percent?

While written for the K-12 sector, I found myself asking these questions about the attempts at reforming learning and teaching I’ve seen within tertiary education, both at the institutional and sector level.

I wasn’t saying “yes” a lot.

In fact, as with Fullan’s critique of the US and Oz K12 reforms, I found myself identifying a lot of attempted strategies that actively mitigated against that list of four.

Now I need to read Fullan’s work (this gives an interesting, alternate perspective on Fullan) a bit more and see what I can critique, but the general themes seem to resonate with me.

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