Associate Professors Thomas Hatch from Teachers College, Columbia University, and Karen Hammerness from Bard College visited Finland this spring. They both participated in and also contributed greatly to the international Learning from Each Other Seminar in May.
We had a chance to discuss about the Finnish school system and school development with Thomas. In his last blog-post related to this visit, Thomas reflects on our discussions and sums up three approaches for school development.
- The “within-school” approach
- The across schools approach
- The “beyond-the-schools” approach
Even a system that “works” may need a new approach to change.
The Within-school approach is familiar to many in the US and sees the school as the unit of change.
Ideally, those teachers will share what they are doing and learning with others (either informally or formally through “turnkey” professional development), and, eventually, when enough individuals get involved, a tipping point will be reached, and the new practices will spread throughout the school.
The Across-schools approach would make the development of professional networks a key lever for change.
this approach could build on the traditions, experiences and practices of the working groups that come together as part of the curriculum renewal process.
The Beyond-schools approach seeks to find more advantageous conditions for developing new kinds of learning arrangements by going beyond schools to build on learning opportunities. However, this approach too has its challenges.
In most countries, such an approach is limited either because it is so difficult for practices developed outside of schools to penetrate the regular classroom (because of the “grammar of schooling” etc.) or because outside of school time has already been consumed by tutoring, cramming, homework, studying, and other school-directed activities.
Overall, these reflections are valuable since many times we in Finland are overlooking the bigger picture of school development. Thomas called for a theory of change. That is exactly what the OmniSchool Project will also work on determining in its last development phase.
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