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 School Improvement:  Paradigms
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Paradigms are the mental models that each of us carries in our minds.  They are our 'working models' of the world. Joel Barker has written an easy-to-read reference. 


The benefits of paradigms are that they filter our all the extra things that don't fit and usually make it easier to deal with the world as we experience it. We do not have to continually judge the 'validity' of every experience


The dangers are exactly the same. Our own paradigms are so familiar and 'natural' that that they seem self-evident and take on a sense of being 'the truth'. This blinds us to possible better understandings. History is greatly enriched by the results of such blind spots.


The quality paradigm
The quality paradigm is different. 

  • Quality focuses on supporting people & making their actions easier and more likely to be successful. 
  • Quality places a very high value on outcomes but assumes that outcomes come from the processes within systems. 
  • Quality does not subscribe to the view that outcomes come from people (in isolation) so bonuses and quotas are not highly recommended
  • Rather than using nouns* (eg, outcomes, literacy, teaching...) the language of quality is more focused on
    • verbs that describe actions & elements of processes and
    • pronouns that indicate relationships and time sequences
  • In order the ensure that the outcomes are achieved, quality focuses on how the outcomes are achieved and obstructed.
  • Using a systems approach quality attends to many aspects simultaneously


Student-Teacher paradigms are variations on the following themes: