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 School Improvement:  Collaboration
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Requirements for collaboration

In order to collaborate well with others we need to be confident in our shared purposes and arrangements.


Confidence in others depends on what we believe in relation to two fundamental questions:

  • Do we have similar values (and purposes): does this person care about what I care about?
  • Is this person competent: does this person know what he or she is doing?


Hence the mission for RPS is "Everyone competent, caring, just and wise".


The reason that these are fundamental questions is that as purposeful beings we are all striving for success and well-being.


Outputs and Outcomes 

Desirable outcomes are the things in our lives that we associated with success and well-being, eg, opportunity, security, happiness, adventure, self actualisation...  It is usually easy to reach agreement on outcomes.  

Outputs, on the other hand, are part of the means for achieving those outcomes. Outputs include learning, employment, accommodation... 


As the required outputs become more specific it becomes more difficult to reach agreement and hence collaboration is less likely rather than more likely.


A focus on required (pre-determined) outputs in education tends to move the emphasis to teachers working ON students.


Alternatives, such as  negotiated studies or mediated learning, have a stronger focus on outcomes, how to achieve them, what they mean and on the transference of learning (other possible outcomes). This leads to higher levels of collaboration: teachers work with students and vice versa.


The implications for basing educational programs around criterion based assessment (or similar) should be of concern. Where learning outputs are pre-determined and required then meaningful outcomes are vague and uncertain and as a result collaboration is low. Success and well-being seem far removed from the heart of the learning endeavours involved. 


Logically this is not necessarily true but experientially it is the common experience. Few of such programs bring joy in learning - they rarely provide a sense of quality - they are unlikely to be "delightful to the recipient".


For learning outputs to be valued they must be meaningful in terms of the outcomes to which they contribute. (more..)

  • Could this be a key insight into the dilemma of secondary education where criterion based assessment is so well entrenched? 
  • Does this help to explain the difference between those students who are successful and those who fail?
  • Does this explain the stress, strain and high withdrawal rates, particularly in grades 7-10 across the world? (In Grades 7-10 the outputs are required but the possible outcomes seem so removed as to be meaningless for many students.