any facet of the environment within the immediate vicinity of a school
will normally require the assent of a number of groups of people. Some
or all of these groups will need to work together as change agents in
bringing about environmental modification. The climate in which these
groups interrelate can radically alter their capacity or willingness to
bring about environmental change.
The complexity of possible relations and interactions where so many variables
exist renders any simple, linear model inappropriate. One analogy for
the complex dynamics of change is to liken the process to the gearbox
of a car, where many wheels combine to convert engine power into forward
(or reverse!) motion.
In this analogy the gearbox represents the totality of the various groups
involved in bringing about change in an area of environmental concern.
The final drive from the gearbox represents any change that results from
the efforts of such groups and the lubricant/grit within the gearbox represents
the climate in which these groups operate, either facilitating their co-operative
working or inhibiting it.
Central to the analogy is a problem or issue which needs to be solved.
The numerous cogs represent various groups of people who may be associated
with any change which occurs. Initially none of these wheels are seen
as affecting change. As change is addressed, one or more of the wheels
may connect with the issue and by turning, start to move the central wheel
thereby affecting the resolution of the issue. The issue may be more readily
resolved if more wheels are engaged and are turning in the same direction.
Any negative influences turning in the opposite direction will slow progress
or stop it completely.
Sometimes, for movement to begin at all, the positioning of one or more
of the wheels to make contact with the central wheel will have to be initiated
externally and it may be that this initiator will have to remain as an
external mechanic to ensure the smooth operation of the gearbox.
Figure 1. The Gearbox Model of Change
Figure 2: Kolbs Learning Cycle
Kolbs Learning Cycle, Figure 2, is a systems model which has been
very usefully applied to lesson planning and may have value in analysing
change at an institutional level. Otto Herz, Table 1 and Michael Fullans
New Paradigm of Change each provide eight point lists which are helpful
in putting theory into practice.
with things that you know.
when you feel positive not when youve got problems.
little steps (youll only make little mistakes).
wait until all your partners are ready to join.
think that you have to do everything alone - blinkers may prevent
you seeing potential support.
make the sceptics feel guilty - theyll hit back.
examine your own feelings - if you feel good about what you are
doing, there is more that can be done.
If you have reservations, who will follow?
confidence to gain support.
Table 1: Otto Herz's Guide to Successful Change
Michael Fullans Eight Basic Lessons of the New Paradigm of Change:
- You Cannot
Mandate What Matters. The more complex the change the less you can force
it. Almost all educational changes that have value require:
beliefs or understandings.
Is A Journey Not A Blueprint. Change is non-linear, loaded with uncertainty
and sometimes perverse. In the face of unpredictable change, the key
to success lies in the creative activity of making new maps.
Are Our Friends. Problems are inevitable and you cannot learn or be
successful without them.
and Strategic Planning Come Later. Premature visions and planning can
blind. The dynamic systems perspective thus leads managers to think
not in terms of the prior intention represented by objectives and visions
but of continuously developing agendas of issues, aspirations, challenges
and individual intentions. Ready, fire, aim is the more fruitful sequence
if we want to take a linear snapshot of an organisation undergoing reform.
Ready = direction; fire = action and inquiry; aim = crystallising new
And Collectivism Must Have Equal Power. There are no one-sided solutions.
You cant have organisational learning without individual learning
and you cant have learning in groups without producing conflict.
Centralisation Nor Decentralisation Works. Both top down and bottom
up strategies are necessary.
With The Wider Environment Is Critical. The best organisations learn
externally as well as internally. It is possible, indeed necessary,
for teachers to act locally while conceptualising their roles on a higher
plane. They must engage state policies, not necessarily implement them
literally, if they are to protect themselves from eventual imposition.
Is A Change Agent. Change is too important to leave to the experts.
It is only by individuals taking action to alter their own environments
that there is any chance for deep change.
The workplace is the key. Reform cannot be achieved without working with
The only solution is that the whole school – all individuals –
must get into the change business, if individuals do not do this, they
will be left powerless.