Note: This continues my series of take-aways from Philip Schlechty’s work, Leading for Learning. Chapter 4 is about “Bureaucratic Images of Schools.”
|Source: Schlechty Center Tools for Change Images of School (free download)|
- This chapter employs some guiding metaphors–best represented in the informative chart above–for what schools look like, including the following:
- The school as factory
- The school as professional service delivery organization
- The school as warehouse
- The school as prison
- The school as learning organization
- For the school as learning organization, the superordinate goal is to provide students with engaging tasks that result in their learning those things of most value to themselves, their parents and the larger society. The core business is designing engaging work for students that calls on them to complete intellectually demanding tasks and leading students in the successful completion of these tasks so that they learn those things it is intended that they learn.
- In bureaucratic accountability systems in which schools must often participate, the leaders of even very good schools sometimes feel compelled to focus on test scores to prove that their autonomy from the bureaucratic structures is deserved.
- Espoused Theory: The words we use to convey what we do, or what we would like others to think we do is called espoused theory. The espoused theory of action for that situation is the answer he usually gives when someone is asked how he would behave under certain circumstances. This is the theory of action to which he gives allegiance, and which, upon request, he communicates to others.
Theory-in-use: The theory that actually governs his actions is his theory-in-use. They govern actual behaviour and tend to be tacit structures. Their relation to action, ‘is like the relation of grammar-in-use to speech’; they contain assumptions about self, others, and environment – these assumptions constitute a microcosm of science in everyday life.
Source: Theory of Action
In the factory model much of the power of the bureaucracy will likely have been delegated to central office staff, and the occupants of these offices will enjoy considerable prestige as a result of exercising this power. Organizing the central office in a way that would be congruent with a service delivery model requires a fundamental shift of power and authority away from the central office and down to the school level.
It requires central office staff to see themselves more as technicians and support staff, persons with limited power and authority, whose primary worth to the system is found in the work they do for teachers, principals, or the superintendent.
Tensions between bureaucratic authority and professional authority will exist, and the impersonal ethos of the bureaucracy will be likely to prevail…The fundamental problem has its root in the fact that members of professions are expected to submit to the norms of their professional group as well as to the norms of the bureaucracy in which they are employed.
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