What’s involved in change?

To facilitate our discussions of the readings in class on Wednesday, we’ve asked you to come prepared to share with colleagues who have read work by the same author:

  • One or two key ideas or quotes from the readings that you think school designers should remember
  • One or two quotes/ideas you found confusing and that require further clarification
  • What questions or issues you would like to pursue further

As an example, we have included here a few of the quotes that we find particularly useful and then included some of the “big” questions the readings raise and that we may pursue further.  While we will not be able to pursue all the questions that are raised this week, we hope to explore those that are most pressing and of most interest to you.

In subsequent weeks, we will ask each of you to take turns sharing your notes like this in advance of class as a way to support that week’s discussion.  In addition to coming prepared for discussion, please remember to post your ideal school description in the folder on blackboard and bring two hard copies to class.  See you on Wednesday.

Key Quotes/Ideas from the readings


  1. 38 Student-centered learning is the escape hatch from the lateral, physical, and hierarchical cells of standardization
  2. 64 Society has hired schools to perform 4 distinct jobs.
  3. 65 What is disruptive to one company is sustaining to another


  1. 31 from Schon:  real change involves passing through zones of uncertainty, the situation of being at sea, of being lost, of confronting, of confronting more information than you can handle.
  2. 48 Meaning fuels motivation; know-how feeds itself to produce ongoing problem-solving.  Their opposites – confusion, overload, and low sense of efficacy – deplete energy at the very time that is sorely needed.
  3. 58 Assume the lack of capacity is the initial problem and then work on it continuously.

Hargreaves & Shirley

  1. 4  All reforms have theories of change.  They have purposes, and tools, and practices to achieve those purposes…. In the world of educational change, theories of what to change and how to change abound.
  2. 27  Our current challenge is to find ways to develop innovation within our schools while continuously improving them.


  1. 57 Today’s problems come from yesterday’s“solutions.”
  2. 128  Systems thinking does not mean ignoring complexity.  Rather, it means organizing complexity into a coherent story that illuminates the causes of problems and how they can be remedied in enduring ways

Some Questions for Discussion? 

What enables “disruptive” innovations to take spread?  What prevents them from spreading?

Why are new technologies today likely to be disruptive, when computers and other technological “advances” have not yet turned out to be so disruptive?

What does it take to build the capacity needed to improve schools?

Do we have to pursue either incremental improvements that are more likely to be effective or radical changes that have a high risk of rejection and failure?

How can we keep in mind both the forest and the trees – the big picture and the key details – at the same time?


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