Monday, February 16, 2009

Is systemic change a way to continue pushing the "transformational" reform policies of the 90's

Educational reforms have tended to stall out over the last decade. One way of thinking about this is that older "transformational" reforms burned up a lot of human capital with little to show. Authors such as Andy Hargreaves point to the futility and counter-productiveness of standardized state-wide reforms. As systemic change procedures are becoming more formalized, I think deep questions about purpose are wise. When is systemic change just sophisticated top-down transformation and when is it facilitating a system to find homeostasis with its environment?

The key indicator of systemic change is paradigm change, which means that a significant change in one part of the system is accompanied by significant changes in practically all other parts, due to interrelationships and interdependence among parts (Reigeluth as cited in Richter, 2007)

Obviously paradigm change is very ephemeral measure. I suspect many ideas, like the paradigm distinction, draw on ideas of social critical mass, like those by Phillip Ball. Or does one also need to add in a conception of willingness and intention? I suspect the latter idea hits closer to some conceptions of systemic change. It is change that is more durable and lasting than 90's era piecemeal transformations. If this is the case, what time frames are appropriate to distinguish real systemic change from psuedo-systemic change?

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